Less than six months into the job, the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp.’s CEO has resigned.
Jim Moore, who started at the EDC in January, stepped down late last week, just days after a stern meeting with the agency’s executive committee. His final day was Friday.
Moore left to pursue other opportunities, said Fred Richardson, the EDC’s chairman who will manage the agency until the next CEO is named. Moore could not be reached for comment Monday.
The executive committee will talk about how to go about filling the job during its next meeting July 15, Richardson said.
“We can get along just fine between now and then,” he said.
The CEO’s resignation followed a stern meeting with the agency’s executive committee Wednesday. During a discussion about the EDC’s performance under Moore’s leadership, board members Mark Lazarus and Gary Loftus said the organization needed to be bringing in more companies and jobs.
“We need some winners, Jim,” Lazarus said. “There’s a lot of heat.”
Lazarus and Loftus also sit on Horry County Council, and they said county officials are insisting that they see better results from the agency, which annually receives $1.3 million in county money.
Their comments came after Moore’s presentation about the EDC’s progress during his first six months as CEO.
Moore told board members the group was pursuing seven companies that could create nearly 300 jobs and close to $75 million in investment. But Moore acknowledged that four of those leads came from a West Coast recruitment trip just a week earlier.
“So in six months we have three?” Lazarus asked during the meeting, referring to the number of companies courted. “How substantial are those projects? ... How real are they?”
Moore said there was a “reasonable chance” the businesses would pick the Grand Strand.
Moore remained positive after the discussion, saying he’d been improving the agency’s marketing and adjusting to the transition in his early months.
“They’ve gone smoothly,” he said last week. “We have put some new systems and other things in place that have allowed us to get ready to kind of go to that next level.”
The EDC meeting concluded with a closed-door session to discuss “personnel” issues. When board members returned to open session, no votes were taken.
Was Richardson happy with Moore’s performance?
“It was probably a mixed bag,” Richardson said. “I would have liked to have seen more emphasis on recruitment. That said, Jim is a good person, had a lot of experience and I wish him the best.”
Richardson said he wants the EDC to bring between 300 and 500 new jobs to the area each year, whether that’s one big company or several small employers.
“We always need to be in the chase for companies looking to expand,” he said.
Moore is the second CEO to head the jobs agency since local officials reorganized the EDC in 2010. His predecessor, Brad Lofton, left the post to take a job in Georgia last summer.
Lofton announced more than 1,500 jobs during his three years running the agency, but about half of those positions have not been filled and some never will be, according to the county’s April 30 jobs report.
The first industry expansion Lofton announced was for AvCraft Technical Services, which filed for bankruptcy in March. Another, Ithaca Gun Co., never signed a contract with the EDC and withdrew from the area. Those firms accounted for 270 of the jobs on Lofton’s press releases. While Lofton did have some successes — a Star Tek call center has welcomed more than 340 employees — several firms have been slow to hire or have seen setbacks, including layoffs.
During Moore’s time leading the agency, the EDC announced the arrival of two companies. Star Life Safety, which implements hospital life safety systems, moved from New York to Myrtle Beach with plans to create 36 jobs; and Little Spider Creations, a prop-making business, migrated from Colorado to North Myrtle Beach and aims to hire 35 workers.
Contact CHARLES D. PERRY at 626-0218 or on Twitter @TSN_CharlesPerr.