MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - There’s no question the Myrtle Beach area has boomed in recent years.
For the third year in a row, the U.S. Census Bureau is ranking the Myrtle Beach area as the second fastest-growing metropolitan area in the country. Over the past eight years, more than 104,000 people moved to the Grand Strand, representing an almost 30 percent growth rate.
Between 2017 and 2018, more than 17,000 people moved to the Myrtle Beach area, representing a nearly 4 percent growth. The July 2018 Census estimates state Horry County has a permanent population of nearly 344,000 people, which aligns closely with the projections within the IMAGINE 2040 plan, indicating nearly 354,000 people will be living in the area by 2020.
Mark Kruea, spokesperson for the city of Myrtle Beach, said people are attracted to the area due to a combination of the low cost of living, warm weather and amenities.
The city, which has been known as a tourist spot for years, is seeing many vacationers choosing to stay for good.
“A lot of our newcomers start out as vacationers. They come to Myrtle Beach for the first time, they see what a great place it is. It still has that small town feel to it. They’re living in a higher taxed state where the weather is not good, so they’re thinking, ‘I could go live in Myrtle Beach or I could retire in Myrtle Beach,’" Kruea said.
However, with so many new homes there are new growing pains. As the Myrtle Beach City Council puts the budget together for the upcoming fiscal year, they’re focusing on ways to provide more residential solid waste services to keep up with the growth.
Major communities like The Market Common, Carolina Forest and Grand Dunes all didn’t exist until roughly 25 years ago.
Michael King, president and CEO of KingOne Properties, is the man behind the Grand Dunes community coming to life in the early 2000s. He said he doesn’t see this growth coming to an end anytime soon.
“I contribute a lot of it to the 1 percent sales tax that we enacted in Myrtle Beach several years ago. We went from like $5 million on advertising Myrtle Beach to $15 million the following year. So the advertising that the chamber of commerce is doing is really pushing the market here, not only for your vacation visitors but also for your home buyers," King said.
He added the area’s geographic location is a major draw, as is a solid economy and high consumer confidence.
“It’s so typical for Myrtle Beach to win accolades like that because basically the geographic location of Myrtle Beach. Sixty percent of the population of the U.S., actually North America, can get here in less than a day’s drive,” said King.
He also points out that with so many new homes going up to accommodate the growth, major retailers are starting to take notice.
“The housing market is great, the commercial real estate is great as well. It’s good and steady, and believe it or not, over the past three years it’s all been about the same. You’d be surprised how close it’s been. So we’re in a good steady market," King said.
Horry County Planning Director David Schwerd said the county is taking a more proactive role in preparing for future growth. That means heavily evaluating flood hazards, public safety, and infrastructure when considering new rezoning requests or designing roadway improvements.