Setting up Shop Downtown

Are you a budding entrepreneur ready to start your first business venture? How about a seasoned business owner looking to make a change in locale or explore expansion? Downtown Florence is tailor-made for small business owners like you. 

Who are Downtown Florence's customers?

Downtown Florence is home to hundreds of employees who are seeking quick lunch spots, places for coffee breaks, and even spaces for meetings. After work, residents and visitors to our two hotels emerge heading to dinner, a festival, or a show at one of our performing arts spaces, often pausing to check out unique items on display in shop windows. Bringing your business to Downtown Florence offers you a diverse daily clientele of downtown workers, local university students, visitors, and tourists.

How do I get started?

The Downtown Development Office can assist you with making connections and gaining access to the information you need to get your business started. We can assist with everything from small business development to navigating the permitting process for signage and exterior building changes. The office also has a finger on the pulse of everything happening downtown from new businesses moving in to retail and restaurant trends, and even tracking all of the development activity within the City of Florence Central Business District. 

The first step to starting a business is to have a great idea. Use the small business resources section of this website to help you get started with your business planning, and be sure to check in with the City of Florence Planning Department to verify if the type of business you want to start is allowed in the area you want to be in. The Downtown Development Office is available to connect you to property owners and managers located within the downtown area and guide you through all of the City of Florence processes you'll need to follow to help you grow from idea to open.


Available Properties  

I want to open a business. Where do I start?

We recommend that you make an appointment with the Downtown Development Office team, who can help you get started and connect you to the resources you will need. You will need to create a business plan, identify a property to lease or purchase, and work with the Planning Department for zoning compliance and business licensing prior to opening for business.

Do I need a business license?

Yes. In order to operate a for-profit business in the downtown area, you will need to obtain a business license with the City of Florence. You will also need to register your business and obtain a license through the South Carolina Department of Revenue.

How do I know if the type of business I want is allowed in the space I want to rent?

You will need to apply for a zoning permit prior to obtaining a business license. Visit the City of Florence Planning Dept. for zoning and land use information and to obtain the required permits. 

Do I need a building permit?

If you are renovating an existing structure for your business, you will need to visit the City of Florence Building Department, submit the required documentation, and obtain proper permitting. All work completed in a building downtown must be completed by a licensed commercial contractor.

How can I make sure my exterior signage is in compliance with local ordinances?

Before installing your sign, you will need to obtain a Certificate of Appropriateness from the City of Florence Planning Department. Your sign will need to adhere to Downtown Design Guidelines in order to be approved, and may require appearance before the Design Review Board.

Will I need a fire inspection prior to opening my business?

In order to obtain a certificate of occupancy from the City of Florence, your building will need to be inspected by a City of Florence Fire Marshal. You can request an appointment through the City of Florence Building Department.

Are there incentives available for business start-ups?

No, the City of Florence does not have start-up funding available for businesses. The existing incentive programs are for construction-related reimbursements to make spaces "tenant-ready."