Conway, SC - CONWAY, SC - Wednesday marks Research Economist Don Schunk's last official day with Coastal Carolina University. According to CCU, he has accepted a position with U.S. Bank in Minneapolis, MN.
Schunk says he and his wife Tammy made the decision to return to their home state of Minnesota to be closer to aging relatives.
"Schunk's research and economic forecasting has provided invaluable insight for business, industry and government on a local, state and regional level," CCU President David A. DeCenzo said. "His work has played a pivotal role in raising awareness about the tremendous expertise we have on the CCU campus and specifically in the Wall College of Business. [He] will be truly missed."
The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber's President Brad dean was quick to mirror DeCenzo's sentiments.
"Don's departure is disappointing," Dean said in a written statement. "He is an exceptional economist and has helped transformed CCU into a regional economic information base."
Dean says in addition to monitoring economic trends and statistics, Schunk also performed important studies surrounding the potential impact of I-73, tourism, hurricanes and other topics.
"He will be missed," Dean said. "But others still here, like Dr. Taylor Damonte and Gary Loftus, will keep CCU at the forefront of local economic analysis."
The chairman of the Board of Directors for the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber, Brant Branham, says Schunk's ability to turn stacks of numbers into useful information is a skill he hopes will be sought out by CCU as they look for someone to fill his shoes.
"I know he was a talented guy with the numbers, but I always thought that taking it from the numbers and putting it into words where it was easily understandable by most folks was his strength," Branham said.
Gary Loftus, the Director of CCU's BB&T Center for Economic and Community Development, says they are looking to post a job description online by the end of the week.
"Hopefully we can get somebody here before the fall semester but we know that's a pretty hard push," Loftus admitted. Ultimately he says their focus is on finding the right person for the job more than finding a person within a limited timeframe.
"We're going to wait until we get the right person," Loftus said. "We aren't going to rush into it."
Until then, Loftus says Schunk's colleagues at the center will pitch in to keep the ball rolling.
"We've got some darn good economists here on the faculty right now, and we have several of them that are going to take over for don until we find a replacement," Loftus said.
Schunk led several key projects during his time at CCU, most recently a study called the "Economic Impacts of Tourism on the Grand Strand," the first full-scale analysis of the role that tourism plays in the broader Grand Strand economy.
Schunk also developed studies on the economic impacts of Interstate 73 and the Port of Georgetown, along with the monthly analyses of current state and local employment/unemployment data.
"Probably the most satisfying part of the job has been the opportunity to reach out to the broader community to help provide education and perspective on economic conditions, trends and issues," Schunk said. "The support I've received from CCU and the Wall College has been tremendous, and I've thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to help move the University forward in its mission."
Schunk has been employed in the BB&T Center for Economic and Community Development in CCU's Wall College of Business since January 2007.