With lights flashing, a City of Myrtle Beach fire truck dropped off an Elvis impersonator to greet Congressman Tom Rice.
A pep band led chants of “Go chamber, go chamber go” as Chauncey, Coastal Carolina University’s rooster mascot, welcomed Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce board members. To conclude Tuesday morning’s song and dance, a banner plane flew over the chamber’s headquarters bearing this message: “2015 Chamber of the Year.”
We’ve had a history of always coming together. ... Sometimes it’s unorthodox. Sometimes we have to do what we have to do.
Jim Creel Jr., board chairman, Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce
That was the reason for the carnival/news conference: to announce that six days earlier the chamber had accepted the top international honor from the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives at the organization’s annual meeting in Montreal.
“It certainly speaks well of the organization,” said Chamber President Brad Dean. “But more importantly, it speaks well of the robust community we represent.”
The annual award goes to a chamber that makes an impact in such areas as business development, transportation, education and quality of life.
Dean said Myrtle Beach was one of three finalists invited to compete for the prize, along with chambers from Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Lexington, Kentucky.
I’ve seen tourism numbers climb and climb and climb. I’ve seen industries moving to this area. All of this doesn’t happen by accident.
U.S. Rep. Tom Rice, R-Myrtle Beach
The competition not only looked at tourism and business numbers, but it also included a detailed interview with Dean about the chamber’s leadership, volunteering and response to challenges.
“You feel like you’ve been through an Olympic trial by the time you get there,” he said.
Rice, who makes his home in Myrtle Beach, praised the chamber’s efforts and said he wasn’t surprised by the honor.
“I’ve lived here for a long time,” he said. “And I’ve seen through the decades that their dedication has resulted in expanding opportunities to this area.”
Jim Creel Jr., the chamber’s board chairman, echoed that sentiment.
“We’ve had a history of always coming together,” he said. “Sometimes it’s unorthodox. Sometimes we have to do what we have to do.”