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Why the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base was among a select few to nab federal honor

Behind the scenes with TSA at Myrtle Beach International Airport

TSA goes behind the scenes at Myrtle Beach International Airport to explain what can trigger a hand search of luggage.
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TSA goes behind the scenes at Myrtle Beach International Airport to explain what can trigger a hand search of luggage.

The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday honored the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base as a shining example of how formerly federal land can be repurposed.

The former military base — which now houses The Market Common, Myrtle Beach International Airport, sporting venues, a college, residential areas and more — was honored with the second annual “National Federal Facility Excellence in Site Reuse” award, which praised its transformation into a safe, environmentally clean site for residents and tourists to enjoy, according to a news release.

In 1993 the Air Force base closed, leaving more than 3,900 acres without a use. Local leaders began taking the steps to turn site into an airport, shopping center and residential area on the south end of Myrtle Beach. Now, the area is responsible for the employment of 25,781 people and provides $2,972,700,000 in annual economic activity and $119,872,710 in annual tax revenue in Horry County, the release states.

“This project is a successful demonstration of how public-private partnerships can convert contaminated sites into community assets that will attract jobs, encourage partnerships and achieve broader economic development outcomes,” EPA Region 4 Administrator Mary S. Walker said in the news release.

Following years of development, the Myrtle Beach International Airport is among the fastest growing in the county. The Market Common shopping center is also responsible for millions of dollars in commerce.

While the Air Force base has been closed for more than a quarter century, people who wish to learn more about those who served on the base can find informational signs around The Market Common and surrounding areas. There is also a park on the Highway 17 Business side that is dedicated to its military history.

The former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base was one of four sites honored. The others were Fernald Preserve, Ohio, Former Naval Air Station Cecil Field, Florida and Denver Federal Center, Colorado.

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