The top candidate for the CEO’s job at the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp. told Horry County Council members Friday that he wants to make Horry County a business destination in the same way that it is a tourist destination.
The lack of an interstate highway, rail service and a natural gas line that runs to prime industrial land are challenges, he agreed after the meeting, but he believes that the area can become a true business destination without them.
Jim Moore, director of business development for the North Eastern Strategic Alliance, told Council members that the job is a fantastic opportunity.
“It’s an exciting community,” he said. “It’s going places.”
Moore still must be formally hired by the MBREDC executive committee, but that could come during a special meeting next week.
If hired, he will be entering an agency that could be structured differently from the one overseen by former MBREDC CEO Brad Lofton, who resigned in July to take a job in middle Georgia.
Mark Lazarus, County Council chairman, said members are talking about an agency that maintains its main office at Horry Georgetown Technical College, but has additional office space in the county building in Conway.
Under the new structure, the new CEO would meet with county attorneys weekly, and the county finance office will handle the agency’s money, including writing the checks. County information chief Lisa Bourcier will work with Morgan Dendy, the EDC’s marketing director, on public relations projects.
“There will be a lot of scrutiny,” Lazarus said. “I think that’s what this council is asking for.”
MBREDC has been getting about $1.2 million per year from the county, an amount Lazarus suggested could be less with more reliance on county staff for some functions.
The appropriation is by far the largest the agency gets, although an additional $200,000 comes from its members.
That money is used to entertain prospective employers as public money is not allowed to be spent for that.
Fred Richardson, EDC board chairman, said there were about 50 applicants for the CEO job. Some of those weren’t suitable by EDC standards and others dropped out because of the year-to-year funding system.
Moore said he knows of similar organizations that have dedicated funding that is guaranteed annually without a vote. He said he’s fine with the situation the way it is, but he believes continued successes by the EDC will help people to see that dedicated funding is a good investment.
Moore was director of the Caldwell-Lyon Economic Development Partnership in Kentucky before he moved to the North Eastern Strategic Alliance, and before that worked in Georgia for the Forsyth (county) Chamber of Commerce, Kagina Construction, Oglethorpe Power and the Georgia Municipal Electric Authority.
He was NESA’s project lead on Frontier Communications call center locating in Myrtle Beach.
He said that Lofton suggested he apply for the MBREDC job, but that a number of other people recruited him for the job as well.