A delegation primarily of Florence representatives and others from the Pee Dee met with lawmakers in Washington, D.C., this week to discuss local issues, provide updates and get some quality face time.

Florence City Councilman Robby Hill helped orchestrate the trip again this year through the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce to talk with local Congressmen Tom Rice, R-S.C. 7, Jim Clyburn, D-S.C. 6, and Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott about infrastructure, education, economic development and transportation issues.

“We pull all these people from the Pee Dee and come up with list of issues, and it’s good to watch the list come together because the issues affecting any one of us affects Florence, Darlington to Lake City,” Hill said. “It’s good to see us present a unified front to bring enough people to show that we’re concerned with Washington.”

This year Hill built upon the guarantee he and others got last year that US Airways Express would remain at the Florence Regional Airport after its parent company merged with American Airlines. Now, there are hopes to see route expansion or an additional airline at the airport.

“This year we’re working with them to look at opportunities to expand US Airways out to an American Airlines hub,” Hill said. “We just want more service. This area is an economic engine that’s unrivaled for this region with a brand new terminal, and it’s an amazing asset to showcase. We’re making case that this is worth considering, especially for these corporations here in Florence.”

Rice said such meetings provides him another opportunity to hear about what’s going on in the Pee Dee region that he has represented for a little more than a year now.

“We discussed federal legislation impacting seniors and physicians and local initiatives to improve education,” Rice said in a statement. “I was happy to give an overview of House-passed legislation that addresses some of their concerns and facilitate a meeting between the group and US Airways/American Airlines.”

Florence and Lake City mayors Stephen J. Wuklea and Lovith Anderson, Jr., along with McLeod Health Chief of Medicine Dr. Coy Irvin, Duke Energy Progress’ Mindy Taylor, Florence-Darlington Technical College’s Terry Dingle and Florence City Manager Drew Griffin also paid their way to D.C. for the two-day trip.

Griffin, like Hill, said the trip gives leaders opportunities to find solutions, like last year when he and Wukela helped secure $4 million in funds to save the troubled Timmonsville water and sewer system. This year the talk focused on Florence’s big issue — neighborhood redevelopment.

“We spoke at pretty good length about neighborhood redevelopment, believing that neighborhood redevelopment is key to the future prosperity of Florence and to attract industry and commerce,” Griffin said. “The federal delegation has access to existing federal programs directed at neighborhood planning activities, so we let them know that that was going to be initiative of the city’s and where they can assist us with those.”

The group also met with industry groups that briefed the leaders on topics relevant to the Pee Dee.

“There’s a lot of stuff going on in our region,” Hill said. “And it was great to be able to share our successes, continue these relationships and look for opportunities.”

GAVIN JACKSON, Morning News