North Myrtle Beach chamber sets marketing campaign with money from fundraising campaign

sjones@thesunnews.comNovember 29, 2013 

— North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce President Marc Jordan has a pot of money to spend and he intends to get serious about it after the first of the year.

Jordan said he’ll spend $500,000 between January and June on mainly Internet advertising to lure more visitors to North Myrtle Beach.

The money should pay off big time, according to an economic impact study by Coastal Carolina University. The study said that $500,000 spent on direct marketing would net:

30,057 more visits

•  82,575 more leads

•  $53,249,920 more direct spending

•  $13,805,363 more direct economic impact

$836,056 more local accommodations tax money

While the impact numbers are impressive, North Myrtle Beach Mayor Marilyn Hatley said the influence of the marketing goes even further. More tourists will bring the need for more businesses which in turn generates employment.

“The more businesses you bring into a community will create jobs,” Hatley said.

The money Jordan plans to spend on the new marketing is in addition to another $1.2 million pot the chamber has to tell potential tourists what a great place it is to visit.

The new money is part of $3.2 million to $3.3 million the chamber has raised in a “Building North Myrtle Beach” campaign that has just ended. The $500,000 for marketing and more comes from a particular arm of the campaign, where some city businesses agreed to collect another 1-cent fee added to the bill that tourists pay at those businesses. Those that contribute to the fund will be the businesses that get names and contact information from the anticipated 80,000-plus leads the fee is expected to generate.

Building North Myrtle Beach is a three-pronged approach whose other goals are to diversify the city’s economy and to make the chamber a state-of-the-art resource center and the point for its growth.

The five-year plan began with a $2.5 million goal, but that was increased in December 2011 after the original goal was reached.

“The 3.5 (million) was a stretch,” Jordan said. “I think if you hit the middle of the stretch, you’ve done pretty good.”

He said 91 North Myrtle Beach businesses contributed to the effort and their names are incorporated on a Wall of Honor that is to be unveiled Wednesday evening at a dedication of the chamber’s new offices at 1521 Hwy. 17 South.

“Anybody who gave anything is on that wall,” Jordan said.

The chamber has already spent about $60,000 of the $600,000 raised with the tourist fee as well as to help pay for executives of PTR Industries to visit the area before they decided to move their Connecticut-based gun manufacturing plant and headquarters to Aynor.

Jordan said the money from the campaign also will let the city recruit businesses directly. He emphasized that the chamber doesn’t intend to compete, but rather partner with the recruiting efforts of the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp.

Another part of the new money has gone to retaining lobbyists to help the chamber formulate its annual legislative goals and with other state government issues as well to deal directly with legislators on some issues and to aid in paying off the mortgage on its new building.

Jordan said the chamber now has 8,000 square feet of space including a conference center. Previously, it occupied about 3,000 square feet on one edge of the Gator Hole shopping center and would go to rented space in a nearby house when it wanted to conduct meetings.

Jordan said the chamber spent about $700,000 for its new building and the land it’s on. He said that $550,000 remains unpaid.

He hopes the balance will be zero within three years.

Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.

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