Meredith Millen, the new executive director of Murrells Inlet 2020, had been a resident of the unincorporated fishing village for a little over three years when the job opportunity “kind of presented itself.” For the area native, it was an offer she could not refuse.
Similar to other area communities, Murrells Inlet is unincorporated, with no municipal government, situated mostly in Georgetown County but partly in Horry County between the body of water also named Murrells Inlet and the Waccamaw River/Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.
Murrells Inlet 2020 was established in 1997, with a 10-year plan that included taking care of the inlet and improvement projects, such as the Marshwalk.
“In 2007, the projects were done, but the community still needed an organization to take the lead,” Millen said. The name of the nonprofit organization was changed to Murrells Inlet 2020, “not for the year, but to show a clear vision for the future.”
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The organization was started by volunteers who participated in the annual Spring Tide cleanups of the inlet, which date to Hurricane Hugo in 1989. Thirty tons of trash were collected following that horrific storm.
The MI2020 board of directors and the advisory council developed a 2016 strategic plan “to promote the conservation of our natural environment while fostering local community and commerce.”
That’s the mission statement, backed by the vision “to make Murrells Inlet a great place to live, work, and visit through a combination of environmental awareness, infrastructure improvements, economic development, and community involvement.”
The strategic plan was based on more than 500 responses to an online community survey for “anyone who lives, works or plays in Murrells Inlet,” according to the MI2020 website www.murrellsinletsc.com
Millen expects construction to begin in 2018 on the first phase of the “I to I” – short for the Inlet to Intracoastal Multipurpose Path. Engineering work is under way for the first phase, one mile from the central area of the inlet to Tidelands Health. The completed path for walkers and bicyclists will be four miles to the Wacca Wache Marina.
The “I to I” is approximately a $2 million project, with Tidelands Health “a huge supporter of the path.” Other financing is from private donations and Georgetown County grants. The three phases will take about three years. Millen anticipates work “to move from completion of Phase One into Phase Two and Three with no down time.”
In addition to Spring Tide, MI2020 organizes cleanups in July and September. MI2020 is a 501(c)(3) with an annual operating budget of about $165,000. Fundraising events include the Annual Race for the Inlet (Easter weekend), Oyster Roast (Nov. 18, the Saturday prior to Thanksgiving Day), Holiday Tour of Homes, and the MI Christmas Parade. Scott Gibson, principal of a private school in Pawleys Island, is in his first year as chairman of the 12-member board of directors.
In April, Millen moved to MI2020 from the United Way of Horry County, where she had been marketing and communications coordinator.
Murrells Inlet 2020 welcomes private and corporate donations to support its programs.
4124 Hwy 17 Business
P.O. Box 1357
Murrells Inlet, SC 29576
Phone | (843) 357-2007