A new marine park will open in Bucksport after Horry County Council voted Tuesday to enter into an agreement with Grand Strand and Sewer Authority, the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation and Santee Cooper to support the construction of the facility along the Waccamaw River.
The new facility will be located next to the Bucksport Marina and will support a boat manufacturing or boat repair business to be decided later.
Under the agreement, the Grand Strand Water and Sewer Authority will build the park, using a $1-million grant and $5-million loan from Santee Cooper. The Myrtle Beach Economic Development Corporation will recruit a company to move into the marine park and Horry County will offer a tax break to the business.
The county will then give almost $7.5 million in tax revenue generated from the company to Grand Strand Strand Water and Sewer to reimburse them for their work, according to the agreement.
"The project’s been in the works for several years," said Grand Strand Sewer Authority CEO Fred Richardson. "We got the idea for it primarily because we own some prime property there on the Intracoastal Waterway and we had some inquiries several years ago from boat manufactures who might be interested in the area."
It will take six to nine months to design the facility, followed by about 18 months of construction on the marine park, Richardson said.
"We hope they’re going to recruit large boat manufactures, yacht builders if we’re fortunate, and all the ancillary industries that support that," Richardson said. "We’ve worked quite a while to get everyone’s approval on it. It’s a happy day."
Along with the marine facility is a new road leading into the marina from Highway 701 near Lucas Bay Road into the Bucksport Marina.
"What we didn’t want to do is go directly into the community because there’ll be obviously trucks and things like that so there’ll be a new entry road to take you into the Bucksport Marina," said county council Chair Mark Lazarus.
And even though the complex isn't built yet, the county is already talking to potential manufacturers.
"We’ve got a couple we’re already talking to," Lazarus said. "If we can get one, we’re talking about significant numbers of jobs."
Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation President Josh Kay said the facility has a good location because of the labor pool and existing infrastructure at the marina.
"From a labor perspective it’s able to draw from most of Georgetown County as well as almost all of Horry County," he said.