Buzz already out on top job in Myrtle Beach economic development

07/30/2014 11:15 AM

07/30/2014 11:16 AM

The buzz is already out about the job opening for president and CEO at the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp., the co-chairman of the committee named to fill it said Wednesday.

“I’ve already been hit by a dozen people,” said Mark Lazarus, who is also chairman of the Horry County Council.

Lazarus will share the committee leadership with Fred Richardson, CEO of Grand Strand Water and Sewer and MBREDC board chairman.

The two will join 11 other committee members in determining who will replace Brad Lofton, who has accepted a job in Georgia and will leave Myrtle Beach next week.

The other committee members include Doug Wendel, MBREDC board chairman when Lofton was hired about 3 1/2 years ago, and representatives from Horry County education, government and business.

The committee could take as much as six months to find its man or woman, Richardson said at an EDC executive committee meeting Wednesday morning. In the interim, he will spend two hours to three hours a day at the EDC office and its staff will report directly to him.

Richardson said the EDC isn’t at the serious stage of luring any new employers now, but a few have said they are looking for a new location and will give Horry County at least a first look.

“We’re really on the map now in terms of economic development where four years ago we weren’t,” Richardson said at the beginning of the meeting to compliment Lofton’s work at the post.

Lofton told committee members that the 579 jobs already filled from new and expanding businesses during his tenure will be worth about $300,000 more to the county economically each year than the approximately $1.3 million County Council funding to the organization.

Richardson said the search committee will allow about 45 days for applications to come in and to get an initial screening. Those from candidates found to be qualified to take the job will be forwarded to all committee members who will then rank their top three.

The committee will then meet to whittle the list to three to five applicants who will be interviewed.

Because the county gives the MBREDC the bulk of its funding, County Council members will also get a chance to interview candidates.

“There’s no doubt that we’ve got to keep the people who provide the money satisfied,” Richardson said. “That’s a must.”

But the EDC will have the final say-so in who is hired.

Executive committee members said they don’t want to drag their feet in the process, but neither do they want to move too hastily.

“We don’t want to move quickly if it leads us to where we don’t want to be,” Richardson said.

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