The need to increase membership was the common thread running through the presentations and speeches at Thursday’s annual meeting of the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp.
But the quote of the day surely came from Jim Moore, the EDC’s new CEO.
On the job for just three weeks, Moore said in his speech that he described his experience along the Grand Strand to a friend as “kind of like spending a day with Warren Buffett and Jimmy Buffett. It’s all here.”
Moore’s address to a packed banquet room at the Marina Inn included thoughts on the membership thread and preceded keynote speaker Hal Johnson, a site selection specialist from the Upstate.
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Even Johnson touched on the importance of membership in his speech about all the things it takes to have a successful economic development effort.
“Organizations are built from the ground up,” he said. “It’s all about the foundation that you build.”
The Myrtle Beach EDC has 160 members and member organizations and got about $250,000 in dues from them in 2014, said Sean Flynn, head of the EDC’s membership committee. A drive last year to recruit new members brought in $20,000, he said.
That money is essential to wine, dine and entertain prospective new employers. The EDC is not allowed to do those things with the money it gets from Horry County, which funds the bulk of the organization’s budget.
“Any thoughts anyone has about how we can expand our membership,” said EDC board chairman Fred Richardson, “please give us your thoughts.”
Dave DeCenzo, head of the EDC’s personnel committee, said the organization’s officers are still working on formal goals for Moore to meet this year.
“One of our goals is to increase membership to bring us more funding to allow us to recruit more industry,” Richardson said.
Moore said after the meeting that he’s not expecting a formal membership drive this year. He said that the salesmanship of a formal effort can ramp up expectations that could be hard to meet.
He plans to use more intense communication with current members as well as one-on-one contacts with potential members to increase the roster. Word-of-mouth encouragement to new members could be his best tool, he said.
“I hope we will grow organically,” he said.