Funding for economic development corp. running low

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Efforts to bring in more jobs to the area could be in jeopardy, as money funding the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation is running low.

The corporation gets $1.3 million from Horry county each year to bring jobs to the Grand Strand. It takes money to bring in opportunities like the StarTek Call Center in the works on the HGTC campus, but now there's a question of where the money will come from in the future.

The current job counter says more than 1,500 jobs have been brought into the county through the MBREDC. There's still more work to do: the ITAP Business park stands empty, and other business parks like Cool Springs have empty land to fill. Myrtle Beach is also in the running to bring in Stone Brewing Co., a California company looking to relocate with more than 300 jobs.

These efforts to bring jobs may have to stop short. Horry County spokesperson Lisa Bourcier says the county only has enough money to fund the corporation at this level through its current contract that ends in 2015, plus one more year.

"Additional revenues would be needed in FY2017 and beyond to continue funding at that level," said Bourcier via email.

Morgan Dendy with the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation says this past year was one of their best, and all involved want continued funding to stay in stride.

"The proof is in the pudding. We've been working hard and creating a lot of jobs here in Horry County, and we feel like that's something everybody can get behind," said Dendy.

Horry County's funding helps the corporation to operate, and there have been talks about raising taxes to keep things going. WMBF News spoke with an Horry County Councilman, and he says just because there's no set funding for the future right now, it doesn't mean they won't find it. In fact, the money could end up coming from you. Councilman Gary Loftus told WMBF that county council will just have to find the best mechanism for funding. It could be from another source within the county, or they could have to raise taxes. Loftus says a tax hike would be a last resort, only if it's considered necessary.

Loftus also says council probably won't start digging for those dollars until around 6 months out from when the contract is up in 2015.

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