Quality of Life
The city’s life centered on the public square and agricultural crops such as tobacco and cotton. For many years, Darlington had the largest tobacco market in South Carolina. While cotton still plays an important part of the city’s economy, the city attracts a variety of industries, including pulp & paper (Georgia-Pacific), steel (Nucor), and polymers (PolyQuest), among others.
In 1949, Harold Brasington built the iconic Darlington Raceway, giving rise to the city’s stock car racing tradition. The raceway has been featured in several films and is home to the Bojangles’ Southern 500, a NASCAR Sprint Cup series.
Famous Darlington Natives
- Harry Bird – 1953 American League Rookie of the Year
- Orlando Hudson – three-time Golden Glove winner
- Elliott Williams – Medal of Honor recipient and the most decorated enlisted person in the history of the U.S. Navy
- Lt. William G. “Billy” Farrow – a member of Gen. Jimmy Doolittle’s Raiders who undertook the daring bombing of Tokyo during World War II
Hartsville combines urban amenities with small-town charm and Southern hospitality. Incorporated in 1891, Hartsville is currently the largest city in the county and mid-sized in relation to the other cities in the state. Its central location allows residents to enjoy all the amenities of the immediate area as well as easy access to other nearby state attractions in Columbia, Florence, and Myrtle Beach.
Hartsville boasts a wide range of historical sites, parks, cultural events, educational opportunities and major businesses typical of cities many times its size. Coker College, one of the nation’s “Best Southeastern Colleges” based on academic excellence and student satisfaction, makes Hartsville a college town. Hartsville is also home to the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics, one of only two in the state.
Startsville, the GSSM Foundation’s Innovation Center, serves as an economic development resource for companies in Darlington County. Startsville, located in Hartsville, helps fledgling businesses find the available resources, advice and learning opportunities they need to achieve commercial success. Through the program, entrepreneurs gain hands-on support for developing and evaluating tech-focused products, protecting intellectual property, finding financing opportunities and cultivating business relationships.
To enjoy nature and recreation, Hartsville offers Kalmia Gardens, 30 acres of flora and fauna nestled on the banks of Black Creek, as well as Byerly Park—a 93-acre multi-use recreation complex with waterpark—and Lake Robinson.
Situated in the southeast corner of Darlington County, Lamar is a small, friendly town of about 1,000 residents living in charming neighborhoods. The quality of life in Lamar is enhanced by strong schools, recreational programs, and an outstanding library system. Lamar is located just over three miles from exit 131 on I-20 on Highway 401.
The town’s low tax base, high community support and proximity to major interstate highways make Lamar an ideal location for business: Carolina Table Company is an international producer and distributor of handmade tables; and Craig Industries makes and sells name-brand shirts.
Lamar is a safe and attractive community for current and future residents as well as a business-friendly municipality. For employers seeking to attract workers to the region, Lamar’s quiet, rural setting provides a high quality of life.
Society Hill is the oldest community in Darlington County. The first settlement was made at Long Bluff, on the banks of the Great Pee Dee River in 1738. Eventually the settlement moved across the river to the community’s present-day location. After the Revolutionary War, the town built a school and a library and soon became the cultural center of the Pee Dee Region.
Today, Society Hill continues to evoke memories of an elegant and more cultured era, with beautiful historic homes and tree-lined drives. The town is renowned for its relaxing park and its annual Catfish Festival. Like other small towns in the region, Society Hill preserves legendary Southern hospitality as a way of life.
Because quality of life is a key factor in attracting workforce talent, Darlington Country strives to maintain its enjoyable, easy-going lifestyle while keeping pace with the expectations of a highly-skilled, technologically adept workforce.
Darlington County’s outdoor recreation opportunities include extensive choices for kayaking and fishing, hunting, birding, hiking and biking. Agriculture continues to play a prominent role in the economy; Clemson University’s Pee Dee Research and Education Center is based in Darlington County, and in addition to large scale commodity farmers, specialty farmers have clustered in Darlington, producing free-range chickens, beef cattle and other specialty crops.