Myrtle Beach City Manger John Pedersen said he was encouraged with the steps the city is taking toward economic and job development – with an interest in technology startups and cultural arts – after a meeting Tuesday afternoon with a group of local college students.
Myrtle Beach City Council and staff met with 12 Coastal Carolina University and Horry-Georgetown Technical College students and recent graduates ranging in age from late teens to early 40s to learn what those entering the work force look for in the places they live, work and vacation.
“I think City Council is addressing most of the things we heard today,” Pedersen said.
Several students said they look for a variety of cultural activities and events, as well as reliable public transportation and vibrant small businesses.
“I really like cities with good public transportation,” HGTC student and Myrtle Beach-area native Valarie Paterson, 19, said. “Something appeals to me about not having to drive.”
Former CCU student and Myrtle Beach-are native Adam Michel, 24, said he likes to be able to support the local community and economy through its small businesses.
“I look for local small businesses that I can support,” he said. “Places like bike shops, restaurants that are run by people from community. Those are the things I look for in a small community. Something like [The] Market Common.”
Students also mentioned the need for job opportunities that aren’t cyclical and closely tied with the tourism industry. City Council spoke with members from Startup.SC Wednesday morning about the possibility of partnering with the technology “incubator.”
Startup.SC is a local company that focuses on helping technical startups and entrepreneurs go from ideas to scaling into a full-fledged stand-alone businesses.
Pedersen said he would like City Council to consider partnering with Startup.SC, with the possibility that it would lease 6,000 to 7,000 square feet of space to house its operation in the south mixed-use are of the city’s downtown area.
Urban Land Institute recently used a technical assistance panel to give recommendations to the city’s Downtown Redevelopment Corp., which included a focus on the millenial generation – people who reached young adulthood in the 2000s.
The city’s target tourist demographic has largely been the baby-boomer generation, but researchers told DRC and city officials that millenials will become the city’s “bread and butter.”
Pedersen said the meeting also emphasized what he said is the city’s need to alter the way it delivers information to millenials.
Many of the students in attendance said despite the large amounts of information available to them, they are unaware of local news, events and other happenings.
Most said they get their information from social media – Twitter, Instagram and Facebook – or through text message alerts or email.
“I don’t think anyone on this panel reads a newspaper,” said HGTC student Nick George, 22.
They also said they prefer for the information to be delivered to them, and read on their mobile devices, over seeking the information directly.
Pedersen said the city is going to look at ways of disseminating information, starting with social media and even possibly developing a city application for smartphones.
“We really need to think about our communication style,” Pedersen said Tuesday afternoon. “[City spokesman] Mark [Kruea] puts out a ton of information, but it’s not being seen – at least not by the group that was here today.”