MCHF Awards $800,000 in Grant Funding

MARION, S.C. -- The Board of Directors of the Marion County Healthcare Foundation awarded six Community Impact Grants and three Mini Grants totaling $800,000 during their April board meeting. A $275,000 check helping to fund the Pee Dee Agriporium Food Hub commercial kitchen facility will be presented to county officials at the May 12 County Council meeting. MCHF will add to the project that includes funds from the Department of Commerce ($600,000), the Department of Agriculture ($261,000) and Marion County ($300,000), a press release said.

Executive Director Mary Dunbar said she was impressed with the due diligence shown by the grant review committee, chaired by Rev. Charles Johnson as part of her first grant cycle. “They met with many of the grantees one-on-one, performed site visits and took seriously their charge to fund the initiatives that provided the greatest community impact,” she said. “You can see from the diverse projects funded that MCHF believes in the importance of focusing on economic development issues - providing training and getting our people to work; supporting our seniors and children; and beautifying the cities and towns in Marion County. I’m proud of the work of the Foundation and excited to be here as the foundation continues to fund meaningful projects that enhance the well-being of the people in Marion County.”

Marion County Economic Development Commission Director Julie Norman said as many as 85 farmers are willing to supply the food hub and held pre-bid conference on the renovation of the building.
“We have posted for a food hub director,” she said. “We’re just talking about phase one at this point, which is the food hub. The economic impact this kind of thing is going to have on not only in Marion County but the entire Pee Dee region is fast turning. ”
Other projects awarded include:
- $42,834 to Pee Dee Regional Transportation Authority to support the current bus routes to transport residents of Marion County to their jobs in Myrtle Beach. This is a three year grant award with $13,106 being awarded in year one; $14,259 in year two; and $15,469 in year three.
- $54,789 to the Marion County Library System to replace the Marion Library’s air conditioning. The Library System spent thousands of dollars on repairs to their current air conditioning last summer, but the system is in need of replacement. “New air conditioning will allow us to keep the library open this summer and continue our summer programming. The improved climate control will also help protect our books and equipment. This is a huge gift to the library and to the community,” shared J. N. Fairbanks, Library Board Chair.
- $72,300 to Historic Marion Revitalization Association to create the Marion Marketplace in downtown Marion. Four years ago a fire destroyed three adjacent buildings in downtown Marion. The space has stood empty since that time. Al Blake, Executive Director of HMRA explained, “By creating an outdoor space, we will enhance downtown property values, preserve the historic essence of the Historic District and provide a safe place for the community to gather and relax.”
- $125,000 to the Marion County Council on Aging to renovate their facility at 307 West Dozier Street. With a limited operating budget and minimal cash reserves, the MCCOA requested funds to repair parking lot grading issues, replace the roof, make restrooms ADA compliant and to provide other structural and aesthetic improvements.
- $230,000 to Marion County Academy of Careers and Technology to create the Workforce Development Center. This center will serve as a hub for workforce training for local businesses, and current and future employees. The Center will house manufacturing training programs, adult education programs and a new dedicated space for customized training for existing and new industry.
In addition to the Community Impact Grants described, the MCHF Board of Directors also awarded three Mini Grants totaling $15,000.
- $5,000 to Pee Dee Regional Transportation Authority to support two additional bus routes to transport residents of Marion County to seasonal employment in the Myrtle Beach area.
- $5,000 to Children Outreach Program for Education (COPE) to provide school supplies and school uniforms for underserved children in Marion County.
- $5,000 to First Steps Partnership of Marion for the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program.