Officials along the Grand Strand prepare for J-1 students to arrive

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Businesses and law enforcement officers are preparing for an influx of students coming to the Grand Strand from all over the world as part of the J-1 summer work program.

"This program was started by Chief Prock seven years ago and it continues to be a success and it grows every year," said Myrtle Beach Police Det. Pete Woods.

Now, the program Myrtle Beach Police Chief Amy Prock helped bring to the Grand Strand has grown to 3,000 students, 40 vendors and dozens of local businesses.

"I think we have maybe 120 to 130 people here. We have department of state, businesses, volunteers, public safety," said Kelly Guyton, with Strand International Student Services.

Woods said the J-1 program was brought to the Grand Strand to help with crime.

"We started the program in order to give information out about public safety, who they can talk to about how to live and work in Myrtle Beach safely," said Prock.

"In years before we started the program, students would come and they wouldn't be aware of their rights," Woods said. "People would prey on them, both American and foreign criminals."

Prock and Woods say crime has decreased but there still are some issues.

"The biggest problem with the students as far as they become crime victims is housing," Woods said.

"Historically, some of the landlords have been overcrowding, extremely overcrowding, to the point where there's two dozen people living in a house built for a family of four," said Chris Lee, director of construction services in Myrtle Beach.

Lee added he will be making sure accommodations fit the housing requirements.

"It's a joint effort by the sponsors that are here, the city, fire marshals, police department, sponsors and the students. We all have to take an active roll in making sure that they're safe," Lee said.

Some students will be arriving along the Grand Strand this month, but a majority of students come at the beginning of May.

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