MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – A Chinese cultural village and theme park will soon be coming to the Myrtle Beach area.
That was the announcement made Friday by Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes and Horry County Councilman Mark Lazarus during a news conference to discuss their recent trip to China.
Between $80 and $100 million will be invested in the project from 20 different investors. A specific site for the center has yet to be decided, but hopes are to announce the location by April, the two men said Friday. Lazarus said an unnamed, local architectural firm has already been contracted.
Construction is set to begin fall 2016, with a hope to open in fall 2017 or spring 2018.
"If it's done right, it could be a tremendous tourist attraction," Rhodes said. "It could be an attraction that there's nothing like it in the United States."
The idea behind the center is to better understand the Chinese culture, language and how the Chinese do business.
Mayor Rhodes says he envisions there being classes at the center, teaching local elementary school kids Mandarin.
"In order for us to do business in this country down the road, or in the future, we need to be able to communicate without having the third party translator," Rhodes said.
Mayor Rhodes says he expects some criticism for this announcement. He hopes people will be open minded and see the opportunities.
"We need to adapt to change. We need to adapt to people making investments in our community that's going to make Myrtle Beach grow," He said.
Large amounts of business are expected to come from Chinese and Chinese-American visitors, according to Friday's announcement. A big selling factor is direct flights from Beijing to Atlanta.
"This is about true economic development and tourism," Lazarus said.