About Us

Our History.

Francis Marion University’s Kelley Center for Economic Development has been dedicated to the economic growth of the Pee Dee Region through small business support/incubation and various regional economic development initiatives since 2016. Our goal is to provide small business support initiatives and services to cultivate business growth that makes a lasting impact on economic development.

FMU’s business community outreach program previously partnered with the City of Florence and was known as the North Dargan Innovation Center (NDIC) from October 2016 to January 2019. NDIC established a proven track record of fostering growth for start-ups and existing businesses through incubation, business assistance, and training classes.

In early 2019, the NDIC was renamed as the Kelley Center for Economic Development and set forth to continue the supportThe Francis Marion University Place in Downtown Florence of small business owners and entrepreneurs in Florence and all other counties located in the Pee Dee Region. The FMU Kelley Center moved to its current headquarters in August 2019, located in Downtown Florence at the University Place Building. The space has 4 semi-private incubation offices available to clients accepted into the FMU Incubator Program, as well as large common area mixed use space for meetings and collaboration.

Additionally, the Kelley Center opened an office at The Continuum located in Lake City. This location offers five semi-private incubation offices along with a large conference auditorium available for lease. Both Florence and Lake City offices have full-time staff that provide services such as small business assistance and counseling.

The Kelley Center is funded by public funds as well as revenue generated through a variety of sources, including program fees, low-cost workshops, and continuing education classes. The Kelley Center also had received grants from state and federal government entities. At any given time, the Kelley Center’s Incubation Program has up to 10 total businesses within the program and works with more than 200 external clients each year. In the 5 years the Kelley Center has been operating, we have had 15 companies successfully complete the Incubation Program and gone on to create 12 new jobs in the region. Collectively since Fall 2019, the companies that launched out of the Incubator Program have made a personal investment of over $300,000 and received loans/grants of over $400,000.

In addition to our small business-focused services, we also perform other activities within our region to include strategic planning and assessments. The Kelley Center has facilitated the Florence County Register of Deeds and Clerk of Court Compensation Study, the Perkins V Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment, and the development of the Pee Dee Workforce Development Board’s 5-year Strategic Plan.

We frequently host workshops to provide educational information about the world of business for existing or aspiring entrepreneurs. Visit our upcoming events page to see the latest offerings.

Contact Us

Photo of Brianna Dennis

Brianna L. Dennis

Executive Director
Kelley Center for Economic Development

Florence Office:
University Place, Suite 207
Lake City Office:
The Continuum, Suite 606
Phone: 843-661-1205

Jamie Howle

Jamie H. Hopkins

Program Coordinator
Kelley Center for Economic Development

Office: University Place, Suite 206
Phone: 843-661-4606

Tamara M. Gardner

Program Coordinator Kelley Center for Economic Development

Office: The Continuum, Suite 608
Phone: 843-374-4216

About Us

ROTC members ma their table during a recruiting event.

The Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) was born when President Woodrow Wilson signed the National Defense Act of 1916. Since its inception, Army ROTC has provided leadership and military training at schools and universities across the country and has commissioned more than a half million Officers. It is the largest commissioning source in the American military.
Army ROTC is a diverse group of men and women with more than 20,000 Cadets currently enrolled nationwide.
Army ROTC has a total of 274 host programs in Cadet Command with more than 1,100 partnership and affiliate schools across the country. It produces approximately 60 percent of the Second Lieutenants who join the active Army, Army Reserve and Army National Guard. More than 40 percent of current Active Duty Army General Officers were commissioned through ROTC. Army ROTC provides Cadets with the character-building aspects of a well rounded, self-disciplined civilian education with tough, centralized leadership development training.

Francis Marion University was founded on July 1, 1970 through a special piece of legislation signed by Governor Robert McNair. The bill creating the then college, was in response to an overwhelming need for a public education institution in the Pee Dee region of South Carolina.
The university can actually trace its history to 1957 when, at the behest of local Florence citizens, the University of South Carolina established a “freshman center” at the Florence County Library. In 1961, a permanent campus for what was then known as USC-Florence was established seven miles east of Florence on land donated by the Wallace family. That campus is the current location of FMU. Enrollment at USC-F grew steadily, reaching 350 by the mid-1960s. Around that time, community leaders began a movement to establish a four-year institution in Florence.
Francis Marion gained university status in 1992.