CONWAY — Officials with the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp. want to jump start development at the International Technology and Aerospace Park and theyre hoping an industry hunter can help them.
There are currently 400 acres of undeveloped property in the park across the runway from the airports main terminal. A taxiway is being built to connect the park sites to the runway.
There arent many specialists in finding aerospace companies seeking a new location, but Brad Lofton, CEO of the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp., said the agency has talked with one. The consultant has proposed a yearlong contract for $2,000 a month, and Santee Cooper has agreed to pay the cost.
The consultant also wants performance bonuses, a perk EDC officials said at a Wednesday morning meeting theyd consider as long as it is tied to jobs that are pledged by employers whove committed to facilities at the park at Myrtle Beach International Airport.
No action was taken at the meeting to either finalize the consultants contract or approve a bonus structure. Executive committee members will first decide if they want to hire the consultant or put the work out for bids.
EDC Executive Committee member Doug Wendel said that an aerospace industry hunter could help seed the park with new employers, which would attract other aerospace-related businesses to ITAP.
Once weve gotten those successes, Wendel said, weve got some momentum and were a player.
Lofton said the consultant would generate leads for ITAP year-round and would meet intermittently with various groups representing the EDC. Any bonus money that might be paid would be subject to board approval and would have to come from the EDCs private funds, which are paid as dues by EDC businesses/members.
Santee Cooper is involved in numerous economic development projects around South Carolina, said spokeswoman Mollie Gore. She said the legislation that created the state-owned utility in the 1930s mandated that it help with economic development.
Besides work with economic development organizations, the company offers a graduated rate program for new businesses that will use at least one megawatt of power and in 2013, awarded $20.7 million in loans to nonprofits and governments for infrastructure.
The EDC has touted the park as a potential site for suppliers of parts and other things to the Boeing plant in North Charleston. Lofton has said ITAPs site would be ideal for aircraft manufacturers. Its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean means manufacturers wouldnt have to travel far to get to airspace where they could test their airplanes.
Area officials tried to sell the site to Boeing for a plant to build the 777X, but the company will keep that work in Washington after a union vote there came out in the companys favor.
AvCraft, which refurbishes aircraft from all over the world, currently has a facility at the airport. Additionally, the Pittsburgh Aeronautics Institute, which trains mechanics and other specialized workers for the aircraft industry, has partnered with Horry Georgetown Technical College for a campus at the airport.
Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.