Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce head to step down

Former Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce president Brad Dean is going to Puerto Rico to become the CEO of the Puerto Rico Destination Marketing Organization.
Former Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce president Brad Dean is going to Puerto Rico to become the CEO of the Puerto Rico Destination Marketing Organization. The Sun News file photo

Longtime Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Brad Dean announced Tuesday that he is resigning from his position.

"It is with a deep, deep sense of profound gratitude and humility that I offer my resignation today," Dean said. "For me, this is a season of change, and for me, this was not an easy decision, I assure you that."

Dean joined the chamber in 1998 as CFO, and became CEO in 2003.

Carla Schuessler, MBACC board chair, attributed his accomplishments to bringing national events to the area, doubling air service, growing the number of chamber members and acting as an advocate for Interstate 73.

"Brad has amazing leadership skills," Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune said. "His communication, not only with the business community, city government, our state government and onto our national government. He has all of those relationships that make things happen.

"He has brought some huge sporting events to this community and continues to do so. The airlines that have been coming into our marketplace. People don't realize that a lot of that work, all of that work is done by Brad and the chamber."

Dean attributed his resignation to personal reasons, but a later release from the chamber said Dean has "decided to accept an opportunity that will be rewarding both personally and professionally."

No replacement or interim has been named. Officials said more details will be released Wednesday.

"We are very grateful for Brad's contributions to not only the Chamber, but to the entire community and state of South Carolina," Schuessler said in a news release. "Brad has been a tireless leader and dedicated steward to the Grand Strand. He has made an enormous positive impact on tourism in our region and that impact will be felt for generations to come."

Dean's impact on Myrtle Beach

During his time as CEO at the chamber, Dean has had many accomplishments, but also has received criticism.

Recently, Dean received the Fred P. Brinkman Award, which recognizes people who made "exemplary leadership contributions to the travel and tourism industry in South Carolina," according to a news release.

During his time as CEO, the chamber was named "Small Business Ally" in 2014 and "Chamber of the Year" in 2015.

"I think this is going to be a huge void for the community," Bethune said. "Mr. Dean has done an excellent job in ways that most of the public really don't know about and that includes the involvement that he has with our state and our national legislatures and the work that he puts in to helping bring dollars and awareness into this area."

However, his time in office did not come without criticism, mainly stemming around transparency.

Many residents of Myrtle Beach have expressed their desire to have the chamber be more transparent, especially in regards to the Tourism Development Fee tax.

"What I really am sorry about is that he has taken so much criticism on social media from people that don't know him as an individual," Myrtle Beach City Manager John Pedersen said. "I think it's deplorable some of the language that's been used and I just really regret that."

The chamber's release said Dean will remain with the organization for two months while candidates are being recruited.

"For everything there's a season, and for me and my family, we're ready to move to a new chapter," Dean said. "For the next few weeks I'll really be focused on transitioning to the next leader and working with the board of directors and the transition team, as well as the search committee, to make sure that not only do we set up the next leader for success so the next leader of this organization, whoever he or she may be, will be prepared to take this organization to the next level and moving the community forward."