By Paul Gable
Reflecting further on Thursday’s announcement that the county and the state would combine to provide AvCraft Technical Services, Inc. with $200,000 of new incentives, I am offended. I can’t help but ask just how stupid county council chairman Tom Rice, Gov. Nikki Haley and officials of the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation think the citizens of Horry County are!
“I am thankful for the company’s commitment to Horry County and proud of our economic development team for this terrific announcement.” – Rice.
“It’s another great day in South Carolina, and we are going to celebrate AvCraft’s decision to expand and create 150 new jobs in Horry County.” – Haley.
“AvCraft is a tremendous asset to our community, and this project is just the beginning for aviation-related businesses locating and expanding in the Myrtle Beach region.” – Doug Wendel, MBREDC board chairman.
“AvCraft’s decision is going to give us momentum and additional credibility as an aviation location.” –Brad Lofton, MBREDC CEO.
Makes it sound like Horry County just hit a grand slam home run to pull it out of the economic recession it is in. And it’s all BS!!
Discussing this with a veteran, national level politician, I was told, “Politicians use these announcements to gain unearned media attention. They are willing to give away the farm to claim credit for creating jobs and, often, giving money to business results in getting political contributions in return.”
Looking at AvCraft’s history in Horry County, it certainly seems the observations of that politician are more to the point than those trying to claim credit.
When AvCraft arrived in Horry County in 2004, it brought about 50 employees with it from its former Tyler, Texas and Canton/Akron, Ohio locations. Through the years, employment numbers went up and down a bit, but 50 employees seemed to be the average number year after year.
Thursday, when AvCraft announced it would add 150 new, high paying jobs to its operation over the next 3-5 years, it had 50 current employees. In its seven and one-half year history in Horry County, AvCraft has a net gain of zero (0) new jobs!
Even if we disregard the 2004 statements about the creation of hundreds of high paying jobs over the next four years by then CEO Ben Bartel, a man who always seemed to me to be much more Phineas T. Barnum than Orville or Wilbur Wright, what happened after 2009?
AvCraft, in announcing its joint venture with Indraer in November 2009, said it would add 50 new jobs over three years. Two of those three years have passed with no results. Somehow AvCraft got Gov. Sanford to attend that announcement. I can only believe one of the governor’s staffers really blew the research on AvCraft before agreeing to have the governor attend.
But now, after having failed to provide new, high paying jobs after its 2004 and 2009 pronouncements, a new group of politicians are trying to make us believe this time will be different with AvCraft.
Rice, who has exactly one year of experience in elective office, is a candidate for the new 7th Congressional District seat. Wendel is his chief fundraiser for the race. Jobs are a primary focus of Rice campaign statements so far. Lofton needs to at least appear to create 500 new jobs in 18 months to save his job. Haley is just being Haley or is she fundraising?
While president, the inimitable George W. Bush once said, “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice..uh..uh..can’t fool me again.”
Tom Rice, Doug Wendel, Brad Lofton and Nikki Haley are doing their best to disprove that statement. Or are they merely posturing to advance the Rice campaign for the new 7th Congressional seat and to serve their individual interests?
Paul Gable is a veteran investigative reporter residing in Horry County, South Carolina and is the current editor of the Grand Strand Daily an online magazine featuring all things local and political.