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TMCNet:  Florence is under app attack [Florence Morning News, S.C.]

[December 07, 2013]

Florence is under app attack [Florence Morning News, S.C.]

(Florence Morning News (SC) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Dec. 08--FLORENCE, S.C. -- People check their smartphones for what's going on around the world.

What about right here in Florence? Well, now you can.

The Florence Convention and Visitors Bureau has thrown its hat into the ring of new technology with its launch of the Florence South Carolina application for smartphones a few months ago. Since then it has spawned several other Florence entities, like the city of Florence, to get their own app as well.

Florence CVB Director Holly Beaumier said although it's still kind of in its infancy, the response has been very good. Since it launched in September, almost 12,000 people have downloaded it.

"It's rewarding because we really haven't done a lot of marketing on it yet," Beaumier said. "People have found it on their own and they're interested in what's going on." With the basic grid work is in place, now begins the arduous task of populating it with the mountain of information it is already providing. Beaumier said one of the first things to be up and running was a regional calendar. The app features sections for dining, shopping, entertainment, attractions, a downtown section and other local mobile apps made available through the CVB.

It didn't take long before the city wanted to jump on board when officials there heard about the CVB's plans. The city officially launched its app at the South Carolina Pecan Festival at the beginning of November. A large part of the city app was migrated from the city's website, offering access to city services, events and history of Florence. In many ways it mirrors the CVB app but also includes links to the parks and recreation department, utilities, trail system along with listing restaurants and businesses.

Florence Downtown Director Ray Reich said he's excited about the section on downtown.

"The downtown section will give us the ability to reach people with our events," Reich said. "It will continue to expand more and more. People have gotten used to using a smartphone of table instead of using a website. We feel like it's critical to be user-friendly to visitors and residents." So far there have been close to 7,400 downloads of the Florence city app.

The CVB app is providing a hub to host and connect with other local apps through Appy City, a technology development company based in Murrells Inlet. The company is growing by leaps and bounds with its focus on providing apps for many cities, chambers of commerce and convention and visitors bureaus throughout area. The goal for the company is to build a digital network throughout North and South Carolina.

"The Florence CVB is the administrator for the app. They will be able to reach out in the community to other businesses through them," Appy City's chief executive officer and founder, Tim Fields, said. "The objective is to get the technology to people who really need it and can handle it. The CVB's and chambers are the focal point of communities that work with everyone." Some local apps in the works or up and running already as part of the Florence CVB framework are local realtors allowing people to look at house listings and visitors can get an idea of the cost of living. To broaden the CVB's reach, it's also connecting with Myrtle Beach.

Eventually, Beaumier said the Florence South Carolina app will list virtually every business in the Pee Dee area.

___ (c)2013 the Florence Morning News (Florence, S.C.) Visit the Florence Morning News (Florence, S.C.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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