Brad Lofton, president and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp., resigned Tuesday for family reasons, and those who hired him more than three years ago praised him for bringing commitments of more than 1,500 jobs to the area and turning the corporation around.
The EDC took more than a year to find Lofton, who signed a three-year contract as the corporation’s chief in April 2011. He came from the Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority in Georgia.
It was not clear Tuesday when his resignation takes effect, nor whether Lofton and the EDC were in the midst of renewing the contract.
During Lofton’s tenure, Horry County announced more than 1,500 new jobs with three corporate headquarter locations.
Lofton issued a statement in a press release Tuesday citing a desire to be closer to family as the reason for leaving.
“For the past three years and four months, I have enjoyed every single second of working with the EDC board and staff, elected officials, private sector supporters and stakeholders,” Lofton said in the statement. “Together, we have accomplished some great things and added to the diversity of the Horry County economy. This move will allow my wife, two kids and I the opportunity to get closer to our families and help provide immediate care for aging parents that are currently experiencing medical issues in Georgia.”
Membership to the EDC increased earlier this year, but revenue from the membership decreased by nearly $60,000, impacting the organization’s marketing services and more.
Loton has had many projects succeed, and met some challenges during his time in Horry County.
Earlier this month Ohio-based Ithaca Gun Co. did not reply to a county incentive offer to bring its gun manufacturing operations and a glass company, along with 120 jobs, to Horry County — a project Lofton, and others, championed after officials recruited gun manufacturer PTR Industries to the area.
Lofton’s resignation comes as the EDC is working to figure out alternative funding since the agreement for an annual commitment of $1.3 million from the Horry County Council only goes through June 30, 2015.
Fred Richardson, board chairman for the EDC, said Lofton helped put Horry County on the map for industrial recruitment.
“We continue to have companies visiting our sites that would not have considered the Myrtle Beach area just a few years ago,” he said. “Although we regret Brad’s decision to leave the EDC, we wish him and his family the very best.”
The EDC Executive Committee will begin recruiting a new president and CEO to replace Lofton.
Gary Loftus, an Horry County Councilman and EDC board member, said Lofton lived up to expectations set when he was hired.
“He seemed to be the right man for the job and it turned out he certainly was,” Loftus said. “He certainly has met expectations. We’re going to miss him, but life goes on and we’ll keep moving upward and onward.”
Loftus credited Lofton with “smart hires” at the EDC, but would not specify who he meant.
“Hopefully the EDC can find a smart hire to replace him,” Loftus said.
Brad Dean, president and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, praised Lofton’s work, as well.
“Brad came into a challenging situation and made Horry County a contender in economic development,” Dean said. “In addition to delivering on the commitment to attract new jobs to our area, he and the EDC team have laid the groundwork for very positive results in the future.”