Colonial Healthcare is using a recent decision as a dual effort to provide the best family medicine care in the tri-county region and also give back to the community.
Dr. Clay Lowder, founder of the original health care firm that is now Colonial, …
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Dr. Clay Lowder started Lowder Family Practice in Sumter in 1996 with one office and three employees. Now, 24 years later, Colonial Healthcare has 13 facilities in three counties - Sumter (9), Clarendon (3) and Richland (1) - and 361 employees. With the new 674 W. Liberty St. practice, Colonial will reach about 400 total employees.
Dr. Clay Lowder, founder of the original health care firm that is now Colonial, talked Tuesday about the provider's plan to expand and renovate the former Save-A-Lot discount supermarket on West Liberty Street and open a family medicine practice there in the fall.
The new facility gives Colonial more space and more parking as part of a long-term growth plan and also improves a dilapidated area in town, according to Lowder.
He said the 674 W. Liberty St. site is part of a federally designated Opportunity Zone area, which is defined as an "economically distressed community" where new investments are encouraged and at times qualify for federal assistance.
Colonial doesn't qualify for any financial incentives in the project, Lowder said, "but it's nice to give back to an area that needs redevelopment," he said.
In the construction, which began in December, a new 24,000-square-foot medical facility will be built.
When it opens this fall, about five doctors and four nurse practitioners will serve from the location. Lowder said about 70 total employees will be on site.
The new facility - which will be Colonial's 10th in Sumter and 14th overall - has been in the planning stage for about four or five years, he said.
Colonial has three facilities in Manning and one in Columbia.
Sumter is Lowder's hometown, and he said he loves to give back locally.
"Sumter has great young advocates in [private business owner] Greg Thompson [of Thompson Construction], [state Rep.] Murrell Smith and [state Sen.] Thomas McElveen, who are pushing Sumter's growth initiative, and we want to be a part of it," Lowder said. "We have been trying to plan with it, talk with those people and support growth for our community, and health care is a big part of that."
Colonial has already initiated the hiring process for the new facility and to date has added two doctors to its staff, according to Lowder.
He said with the site addition, Colonial will be moving some personnel around, but once the new practice is completed, about 40 new jobs will be added locally in the project. Colonial has about 331 employees at its 12 facilities in Sumter and Manning, he said.
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