Letter | Bike rallies bad answer for economy

May 5, 2013 

I have an issue with the answer to bike week for those of us who live here to leave for a week.

You see, I work for a living and so do most of my friends and family and the surprising thing is none of them work in an industry that relies on tourists. The largest employers in Horry County are not businesses that rely on tourists. You have state employees, county, cities (Conway and Myrtle Beach), school district, hospitals, doctors’ offices, HGTC, CCU, AVX and those employed in construction to name just a few.

Our children are attending school during bike week and the roads being indicated for the loop contain schools from primary to high school. We have new charter schools going up and we all know that we have issues now with traffic without having 100,000 motorcycles adding to the congestion.

Main Street Daytona is less than nine miles to I-95; I-4 is also in the same vicinity, two actual interstates to help ease with the exit of that rally. I understand that we have a large tourism industry and many people who work in related fields but we can attract tourists throughout the year rather than rely on one week to make or break a season.

Plus, I have serious issues with an industry that would rather hire foreign workers each spring for the season at an hourly rate much higher than minimum wage rather than hire local staff at minimum wage, train them and keep them just to avoid the possibility of unemployment costs. What happened to hiring people at low level positions and grooming them to move up? I recently took a tour of the new terminal at our airport. I know it has been the bunt of many jokes do its size, cost and the recent figures on activity but you can’t lure other airlines to your area unless you make it attractive to do so.

I moved here from Columbia many years ago for a job and Horry County not just Myrtle Beach has always been looked down on by the rest of the state. That’s right, your own fellow South Carolinians have a low regard for you. Why can’t we aspire to be more like Charleston? Yes, they have tourists but the growth there of good paying jobs has been extraordinary. The airport has attracted Southwest and recently Jet Blue and it has the big advantage of an interstate. We have trouble attracting real industry because we lack a good way to move goods and services. That should be enough reason for I-73. Instead of looking to make one segment of our area happy we should have a long range plan to increase prosperity for everyone and reverse the negative view of our county.

The writer lives in Conway.

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