City Council holds special strategic planning meeting, may create new department

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Myrtle Beach City Council held a special strategic strategy meeting on Tuesday at the Myrtle Beach Sports Complex building.

“We’ve asked for this because we as a council and as management, we want to make sure we’re preparing ourselves for the next 20 years,” said Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes.

This was the first time City Council has held a meeting for long-term discussion in about 15 years.

“It helps us to sit here and just talk and hash out where we are and what the direction is we have to go,” added Mayor Rhodes. “Not only from a financial obligation but also just from an obligation of support.”

The meeting began with council discussing the strengths and weaknesses of the city of Myrtle Beach and the council as a governing body. Strengths brought up included the city being a good blend of a young and old population, low cost of living and amenities which bring in tourists.

The weaknesses council members brought up included the lack of public transportation in the city, low salaries for many of those who live and work in the area and no direct interstate access.

The goal is to use information discussed today to create a long-term plan for the city.

“When we look at the reality of things, that the fact is that we are a one-industry town and that’s tourism,” said Mayor Rhodes. “Everybody wants to talk about diversification but we’re limited as to how much diversification we can have in a city that’s only about ten miles long and a mile and a half wide.”

City Manager, John Pedersen, also presented a new strategic initiative to the council. The concept is to create an Economic Development Office where everything can fall under one roof.

“We’ve got several focuses on businesses in our strategic initiatives. Diversifying tourism, expanding sports tourism, trying to attract different types of industry like technology and healthcare,” said Councilman Wayne Gray. “Can we incorporate all those activities under one office of economic development with a staff that 24/7, 365 is driven on making business activity in our community the best that it can be?”

The council will now talk with business leaders to get their thoughts on creating an Economic Development Office. Pedersen will then come back with models from other communities that already have this type of office.



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