Natalie ZeiglerBy Natalie M. Zeigler
City Manager

For a year now, a planning document for the future of Historic Butler District, “South Hartsville Heritage Alive: A Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy” has informed the direction of the City of Hartsville’s initiatives in that part of town. The document, which you can find on our website, devoted a chapter to economic vitality, noting that neighborhood-oriented businesses bring needed jobs, energy and life to communities, but require meaningful access to capital and entrepreneurship training.

Because of these opportunities and these needs, we are excited about the City of Hartsville’s upcoming Business Builder Program, a project made possible by a Byerly Foundation grant which will help serious entrepreneurs who are having difficulty obtaining financing realize their visions for business startups. It will feature a certification course teaching crucial aspects of making a business succeed, and for those who successfully complete the certification, it will also give an opportunity for fledgling business owners to apply for low-interest loans of up to $10,000.

Anyone interested in this program will need to attend one of its mandatory information sessions, coming up on Monday, Jan. 25 at the Butler Heritage Campus Auditorium, located at 1103 S. Sixth St. The sessions will take place at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., and participants will need to come prepared for a short interview about their business idea. Mary Catherine Farrell is serving as the City staff contact for this program, and can be reached at 843.383.3015 ext. 2010 or

To return to the planning document that we keep consulting for the Butler District, its authors held up downtown Hartsville as an excellent example of small-business success in our community. The 14 downtown-area ribbon cuttings we saw downtown strongly back up that claim. Even as we start new economic development pushes in areas away from the historic business core, the Start-Up Hartsville competition shows that we aren’t anywhere close to losing focus on downtown.

The competition, a project of Main Street Hartsville and the Duke Energy Center for Innovation, is designed to entice new business development into downtown. It staged a first round last year, offering its two winners business-building guidance and $12,000 each of incentives. The winners — handmade accessory boutique Seersuckergypsy as well as the repurposed furniture shop/wine bar Retrofit sip-n-seat — opened late last year as two of the most talked-about new small businesses in Hartsville. Applications for the second round of the program have now closed with 10 contending businesses now in the mix. The two new winners will be announced in a ceremony at Black Creek Arts Center, 116 W. College Ave., on Monday, Feb. 29 at 6 p.m.

Natalie Zeigler is the City Manager of Hartsville. For more information, call City Hall at 843-383-3015 or email