NMB Chamber launches effort to plan development

North Myrtle Beach, SC - By Brandon Herring - bio | email

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Leaders of the North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce are starting a new initiative that will guide the city's future growth and development.

Chamber President Marc Jordan calls the effort "Building North Myrtle Beach," and he presented the idea to the city council Monday night. Jordan says the effort would take about five years with at least the first six months dedicated to creating a vision plan for North Myrtle Beach.

"The whole premise here is we don't want to sit back and let somebody else create our future," Jordan said. "We'd rather sort of take it on ourselves and create our own future."

The vision plan would forecast the type of growth and development people in Myrtle Beach would like to see in the next 20 years. Jordan says he expects tourism will continue to be important and attracting sports tourism will grow to be even more important.

"We need a dedicated person to be working with sports promotion and sports tourism as well as other large group events," Jordan said.

There may be plans for more fields, courts or even boat docks according to Jordan.  The city may also need to diversify and attract non-tourism business. Jordan says Scottsdale, Arizona has done that successfully.

"Fortune 500 companies are located in Scottsdale, and yet people clamber to go there for their vacations," Jordan explained. "So you have both."

Figuring out how to develop the area around the North Myrtle Beach connector between United States Highway 17 and South Carolina Highway 31 will also be considered.

Jordan says residential development is an option and developers may also want to add new stores and restaurants to the area. He also believes it would make a good place for some new business offices.

But all the consulting and research for the initiative comes with a cost though. Jordan says the chamber will have to pay third-party researchers to figure out what types of growth will work well for North Myrtle Beach. As the initiative progresses three, four and five, years down the road, the chamber may decide to hire a new marketing staff.

Some of the new staff or other costs could be shared expenses with the city according to Jordan. As part of his presentation to city council, he asked the city for money to help with the initiative. His request was for $100,000 each year for the next three years. He says everyone needs to be involved to make the vision work.

"Let's be progressive," Jordan added.  "Let's think.  Let's don't have any preconceived notions, but let's remember we're all in this thing together."

Even if the city contributes, most of the money for the initiative will come from the private sector Jordan said. The chamber was already planning a private fundraising campaign to help it move into a new office building. Then chamber leaders realized the campaign could also be used to raise money for the initiative.

"It's an ambitious plan, and it's one that we need to get started on, so I really think it's a time to do that," North Myrtle Beach businessman Ed Horton commented.

Horton is a banker at Anderson Brothers Bank in North Myrtle Beach and he supports the initiative and fundraising effort behind it, saying it will help the city paint a picture of the future.

"The question of can we paint that picture is, we don't know, but we want to paint it," Horton said.

Copyright 2010 WMBF News. All rights reserved.