Big boating business could be in Grand Strand's future

BUCKSPORT, SC (WMBF) – An idea to reel in marine industry to Horry County could be in the works.

The 250 acres of empty land that surrounds the Bucksport Marina would be the site of a new marine industrial park. It would also be an opportunity to bring maritime manufacturing to Horry County.

"This will give us another great location to locate businesses and to create jobs within a community that could really use it," said Candace Howell with the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation.

Howell says the park would be a good fit for yacht and boat manufacturing companies, and shipping companies.

"It would give us an extreme advantage. It would give us port access to get to Charleston and Georgetown."

Fred Richardson is the CEO for the Grand Strand Water and Sewer Authority (GSWSA), the company owns the land. GSWSA is part of the team pushing for this new park.

"That is something very unique about this property. We do have access to the deep water and access to the ocean," added Richardson.

The master plan divides the land into lots companies could lease out.

"We're actually putting in infrastructure. Roads. Water. Sewer. Storm drainage."

The plan also calls for industrial size boat lifts.

Before project leaders can break ground on the project, there are a few hurdles to jump. One hurdle if finding the $6.5 million it would take to complete phase one of the project.

"We're still negotiating that."

Richardson says it would be a joint effort with the county, Santee Cooper, GSWSA and possibly federal and state grant money. They would also need to get the proper zoning permits with the county. Tuesday night county council gave the okay to push it one step forward.

"We're excited about last night's vote. County council is giving it the second reading that puts us further in the direction of actually seeing this happen," said Howell.

Horry County Council still has to give the final approval for changes in the zoning rules. According to Lisa Bourcier, spokeswoman for Horry County, the ordinance council gave second reading to Tuesday night only creates the district. If it passes the third reading, then GSWSA would have to rezone their property to that newly created district, which would take another three reading ordinance.

A public hearing on the idea is set for this Thursday night at the Horry County Government and Justice Center at 5:30 p.m.

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