Robotics competition could make Myrtle Beach its permanent home

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) -  Palmetto Partners, a non-profit organization formed to promote education and careers in science, is asking the Horry County School Board for an ongoing commitment of $20,000 to help fund the Regional Robotics Competition in February.

Last year it cost the group $129,000 to hold it at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center. Sponsors help to pay, but this year they say they asked the school board and plan on asking the Chamber of Commerce for $50,000.

Palmetto Partners says they want to hold the competition in Myrtle Beach moving forward because of what the Grand Strand has to offer. School Board Chair Joe Defeo says he plans to vote in favor of the funds and thinks it's a great investment.

"I think $20,000 is a very very inexpensive investment," he says. "If this was in Hilton Head or Charleston, we would be spending that much just to send our kids there anyway."

With hotel stays, food and entertainment from families traveling to the area, the competition generates much more than it costs. Defeo says the school board would easily recoup the money back in taxes.

But its not all about money. Defeo says what the students are learning is much more valuable.

"It's no different when you are at those competitions than in a sense a football game," says Defeo.

This year 67 teams from 12 states, Canada and Brazil are already signed up to compete, and there's a waiting list of 25 teams. The competition is set for the last week in February.

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