MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Brad Dean, the longtime president and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, announced Tuesday that he is leaving the organization.
"We are very grateful for Brad's contributions to not only the Chamber, but to the entire community and state of South Carolina," said MBACC board chair, Carla Schuessler. "Brad has been a tireless leader and dedicated steward to the Grand Strand. He has made an enormous positive impact on tourism in our region and that impact will be felt for generations to come."
Dean was named president and CEO of the chamber in 2003. In that role, he headed the chamber's board of directors, handled government relations, managed the executive leadership team, coordinated Program of Work, oversaw disaster recovery efforts, and served as president of the Area Recovery Cooperative, according to the MBACC website.
Last week during the South Carolina Governor's Conference, Dean was awarded the 2018 Fred P. Brinkman award for his work with the Chamber. Under his leadership, the MBACC was named "Small Business Ally" in 2014 and "Chamber of the Year" in 2015. Last year, the Chamber received a regional "Chamber of the Year" award. Dean also has two federal appointments: on the National Advisory Committee on Travel and Tourism Infrastructure, and on the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board.
"After determining there was no changing his mind and further discussion about the opportunity he has, we quickly realized this was the best decision for Brad Dean both professionally and personally," Schuessler said during Tuesday's announcement.
"It'll be a big change for our family and I will be taking on a much different role, but thankfully I will carry on a lot of the things that I began here and serve a different community in a whole new way and use the power of travel to transform the lives of others," Dean said.
During the announcement, Dean said it was not an easy decision, but one that he truly believes is best for his family.
"You know, there are so many great moments that I will always cherish - bringing presidential debates, the country music fest, growing tourism numbers from 11 million visitors to 18 million, and more importantly creating more than 10,000 jobs, but what really sets the Grand Strand apart is the people," he said. "We talk about the beaches and the golf courses and the economy. What's really special is the people that make this such a wonderful place to live, work and vacation."
To better serve the Grand Strand on a local and legislative level, the chamber is separating the role Dean held. The president and CEO will serve in a different capacity than the governmental role.
"The board will hire a government affairs director who will take my role in Columbia and Washington," Dean said. "It doesn't require a lot of time and commitment on the road, so now we will have two people serving the Grand Strand in this role instead of just one."
South Carolina Representative Tom Rice released this statement following Dean's resignation:
"Brad Dean's vision for Myrtle Beach has had an insurmountable impact on our community. Brad's dedication to expanding South Carolina's tourism industry is only a small portion of what he has achieved. He has been instrumental in bolstering the tourist economy in the Grand Strand and is an outspoken advocate for projects that will create prosperity across South Carolina. Brad's years of service and countless contributions have put the Grand Strand on an accelerated path for economic growth, and have opened the door for many future opportunities. I am so honored to have been able to work with Brad and above all, call him a good friend. I wish him the best of luck in his next chapter and know he will continue to achieve great things. Thank you, Brad!"
The board of directors has initiated a national search for both a CEO and a government affairs director, according to a news release from the MBACC. Dean will continue in his role at the chamber for approximately two months while candidates are being sought.