Full Forward Biz Contest

Full Forward Downtown Florence is a competition designed to give existing retail business owners or franchisees the opportunity to relocate or expand their existing business in the Downtown Florence Historic District (H-1). Business proposals submitted into the competition may be the same as the entrant’s existing retail business type or something different than the current business.

This competition is designed to increase the occupancy of available Downtown Florence Historic District properties with retail businesses that will be successful by offering a product or service which enhances the current retail landscape downtown.



••• THE PRIZES •••

  • A twenty thousand dollar ($20,000) cash prize for expenses related to opening of your new store. This prize money may be applied to building renovation, purchase of fixtures, inventory, or marketing.
  • A thirty thousand dollar ($30,000) Tenant Up-fit Grant from the City of Florence. These funds can be used for tenant renovations to include electrical, plumbing, HVAC, floor covering, improvements to walls and/or ceiling, permanent fixtures, lighting, or other qualifying building renovations.
  • A five hundred dollar ($500) Sign Grant from the City of Florence for signage on the new business
  • A five hundred dollar ($500) Design Grant from the City of Florence for professional architectural or interior design services
  • A three hundred dollar ($300) credit towards your first year City of Florence business license
  • Special lease incentives offered by the selected property owner


The winner of the Full Forward Downtown Florence Business Competition shall be obligated to execute a minimum of a three (3) year lease on the property of their choice within the Downtown Florence H-1 Historic District. The Downtown Development Office can provide a list of available properties and assist in site selection, if desired.

Unless otherwise agreed in writing by the Florence Downtown Development Corporation, hereafter referred to as “FDDC,” the winning business must open their new retail business no later than November 1, 2017. If the business does not open by the agreed upon date, FDDC reserves the right to revoke the $50,000 in cash prize money.


  • Applicants must currently own or be a partner in an existing retail for-profit business that has been continuously operating for at least twelve months.
  • The existing and proposed new business can be privately owned, a partnership, corporation, or LLC. It can be independently operated or be part of a franchise.
  • All applicants must be legal US citizens and be at least 18 years of age.
  • The business can be a relocation, an expansion of a current business, or a new concept by an existing business owner.
  • The applicant must demonstrate to FDDC and the property owner the financial capacity and creditworthiness to execute the required building lease as well as sufficient start-up and operational capital to operate the business.


On or before 5:00 p.m. EST on  July 7, 2017, the applicant will submit their preliminary application using the online application which can be found online here:

Alternatively, you may mail in a printed application (here). Completed paper applications can be mailed to the address below. Mailed submissions must be received no later than July 7, 2017. FDDC will not be responsible for late submission caused by the postal service, other carriers, or any other delivery problems regardless of the reason.

Mailing Address

Florence Downtown Development Corporation
Full Forward Business Competition
324 W. Evans Street
Florence, SC 29501

No later than July 12, 2017, a review panel selected by FDDC will review the applications and determine the semi-finalists. Semi-finalists will be required to prepare a business plan that they will present during an in-person interview with the selection committee. All applicants will be notified via email of the status of their application and semi-finalists will be required to have their business plan ready for presentation by July 31, 2017. If desired, assistance in the preparation of the business plan can be provided at no charge by the North Dargan Innovation Center located at 150 N. Dargan Street.


The FDDC-appointed selection committee will choose semi-finalists based on the following criteria:

  • Length of time in your current business
  • Total years of experience as a business owner
  • Compatibility of enhancement of your proposed business to the current downtown retail mix
  • Current size of business and number of locations

The finalist selection criteria will include the semi-final criteria plus the following criteria:

  • Evaluation of the business plan and presentation thereof to the FDDC-appointed selection committee by the applicant
  • Background and financial checks

Final selection of the Full Forward Downtown Business Contest will occur after the interviews and presentations have been completed. The determination of the winner will be made no later than August 7, 2017.

In the event that the winner is unable to lease a building and begin any needed renovations by September 30, 2017, FDDC reserves the right to revoke the award and award it to another finalist.

The Florence Downtown Development Corporation (FDDC) shall have sole discretion in evaluating the qualifications of applicants and the suitability of their proposals to meet the needs of Downtown Florence. FDDC reserves the right to select the proposal that is deemed to be in the best interst of FDDC and Downtown Florence. The decision of the selection committee is final.

FDDC reserves the right to reject any and all proposals and not award the monies or prizes. This competition does not commit FDDC to award the prize money or to pay any costs incurred in the preparation of a proposal. FDDC reserves the right to accept or reject any or all proposals received or to cancel it in part or in its entirety if it is in the best interest of FDDC and Downtown Florence. FDDC, in its sole discretion, may amend or withdraw this competition at any time.