MYRTLE BEACH — Confidentiality in the economic development process and reining in green lasers are two big issues the Horry County Council will tackle at Tuesday’s meeting.
Brad Lofton, president of the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp., plans to give a presentation on economic development confidentiality.
“We’ve got so much going on. We’ve got 15 active projects,” Lofton said. With a lot of information involved in trying to lure companies to the area – a majority of it confidential – he said the talk is an effort to help educate both the council and the public about the need for such secrecy.
Lofton pointed out there is a lot of information thrown at council members in executive sessions regarding economic development. These agreements are one of the few exceptions carved out in the state’s public access law, allowing public bodies to discuss them out of public view. In recent months, some of that information has found its way to the public despite such closed-door sessions, provided by somebody with access to the confidential talks.
The goal of Tuesday’s discussion, Lofton said, is to reinforce the correct time for taxpayers to find out the details of a project.
Burnie Maybank, a former two-time director of the state’s Department of Revenue and long-time expert in S.C. economic development and its rules, will give an overview of laws that apply to economic development and confidentiality, Lofton said.
One of the 15 active projects at the center of the presentation is Project Blue, which would bring 1,020 jobs to the area. The name of that company has still not been officially revealed.
Also not revealed has been the name of the company behind Project AF, another effort that could net Horry County 79 new manufacturing jobs. All that’s known is that it’s an expansion of an existing industry and the jobs would pay $12 to $13 per hour. The agreements to create a multi-county business park and approve a 20-year tax break for the company are up for a final vote Tuesday, as well as public review.
Councilman Marion Foxworth said he understands the need for a certain degree of confidentiality in economic development. However, he said a level of transparency is also needed.
“When you get to the point of holding a public hearing and holding a public vote on the expenditure of public monies, the public has the right to know,” Foxworth said.
After the council talks economic development, they’ll move their attention to green lasers.
Up for an initial vote is an ordinance regulating laser pointers in Horry County. It must pass three votes before becoming law.
The ordinance comes out of the county’s public safety committee without a recommendation.
The proposed ordinance limits the sale of green laser pointers to those under the age of 18, and the strength of the devices can’t exceed 1 milliwatt. Additionally, those using lasers for professional purposes, such as educators, contractors or public safety officials, would be exempt.
The proposed ordinance comes after several incidents in which green lasers were pointed at helicopters flown by the U.S. Coast Guard during search and rescue missions on the Grand Strand, most recently in Garden City Beach the first week of August.
In August, Cmdr. Gregory Fuller, commanding officer at Air Station Savannah, which provides air support for the Grand Strand, said the Coast Guard may not help with search efforts on the Grand Strand because their rescuers’ safety is in jeopardy.
Contact BRAD DICKERSON at 626-0301.