A look back on Brad Dean’s impact to the Grand Strand over the last 20 years

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - After over twenty years of leadership at the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, Brad Dean is headed south to Puerto Rico, to help revive the tourism industry of the island devastated by Hurricane Maria last year.

On Monday, WMBF News sat down with Dean to find out what accomplishments he's most proud of, and what he thinks about projects he leaves unfinished.

The Grand Strand of 1998 was much different from the one we live in today.

Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Brad Dean has had a big hand in its evolution.

" In a lot of ways, my job is to be a cathedral builder, cathedral builders built huge buildings and structures that would live beyond them - sometimes they didn't even get to finish the job," Dean said.

Dean has been a driving force behind the growth of the area's tourism and of its brand.

"I think back to when we hosted the presidential debates; it wasn't just about a televised event, it was about launching our national brand and giving our community a chance to show the very best that it offers," he said.

Dean measures his success at least partially by the events brought here that make the city a player on the national stage.

"Bringing major events like the Country Music Festival or the ESPN Basketball Tournament have also helped to brand the destination," Dean said. "I think also just bringing people together to recognize that the tourism industry can and do great things."

The job hasn't been an easy one, and Dean knows he's had his share of critics.

"Probably one of the most important lessons I've learned with this job deals with public perception and transparency," Dean explained. "I've always tried to live my life honestly and with integrity, but I've learned in this job it's not just enough to do things right, you have to be so clear and so transparent that even the fiercest critic or skeptic can't question what you do."

While Dean is proud of what he's accomplished, he knows the cathedral is not finished.

"There were so many things that I wanted to accomplish that we've been able to do in this community to grow air service to reach new heights in tourism," he said. "I was hopeful that I would be here to welcome personally the 20 millionth visitor and cut the ribbon on I-73, so I may just have to cheer you on from afar, but the great thing is I know those things are going to happen. It's not a matter of if it's a matter of when."

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