By Paul Gable
The surprising announcement by the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce two days ago ending the Sun Fun Festival appears to be one more step away from tourism along the Grand Strand.
Coming as it does on the heels of another attempt by county council chairman Tom Rice to end the Harley Davidson May bike rally, it means that the two longest running festivals associated with Myrtle Beach tourism are being sent to the scrap heap by those who see themselves as the leaders of the local business establishment.
“The MBACC board of directors has made the decision to suspend certain events this year that are not self-sustaining. With the interests of both the membership and organization in mind, the board of directors has decided that general events held in-market in 2012 that are not self-sustained by sponsorships, ticket sales or event-specific revenue, should be suspended so our out-of-market advertising investment can be maximized and we can invest in real estate promotion,” read the key elements of a press release from the MBACC announcing the cancellation of Sun Fun.
There are several things wrong with this press release. Events such as the Sun Fun Festival are not meant to pay for themselves. They are used just like loss leaders at the supermarket to draw people to the area so local businesses get the advantage of additional consumers.
Sun Fun, specifically, was started in the early 1950’s to kick start the summer season crowds several weeks earlier than had been the case.
Additionally, the reference to self-sustaining events goes away next weekend when the Coastal Uncorked festival makes its 2012 appearance. Records show that event is not self-sustaining, but receives considerable public money from the Myrtle Beach City Council as well as money from the Chamber.
Fortunately Horry County Council voted 11-1 against giving $40,000 in A-Tax money to Coastal Uncorked. The only vote for appropriation of county public dollars to the event (?) – leader of the Take Back May movement and now council chairman Tom Rice.
Coastal Uncorked was originally started as part of the Take Back May movement to replace lost revenue from running off the bikers. Not only has it not worked, it doesn’t even take place in May anymore.
But, the part of the press release that bothers me most is “so our out-of-market advertising investment can be maximized and we can invest in real estate promotion.”
It seems that the “Ad Tax for Tourism” has now morphed into the “Ad Tax for Real Estate Development.” I’m not sure this is even legal with the way state law was written for the “1% Local Option Tourism Development Fee”, but such considerations will not stop our “local leaders.”
Others in the media have demonstrated the interlocking association of the largest recipients of the one cent sales tax revenue with campaign donations to local and state candidates in what is called by some as the “Coastal Kickback” scandal. That is certainly one area for continued investigation.
However, this also appears to be a second step in hurting small businesses that count on such events as bike week and Sun Fun for a major portion of their revenue.
When we read “and we can invest in real estate promotion” we ask, is this really about a land grab by certain members of the local establishment at the expense of small business?
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Good report, Paul, as usual.
In very closely related news: It’s fascinating that, according to MBACC disclosures, an inordinate amount of MB public funds from the BrAd Tax are going to a highly questionable (at best) LLC, ostensibly operated out of a storage facility in Myrtle Beach. In reality, the operation is run out of the private home in Charleston, listed as belonging to “BR”. HMMMMM …
Persons calling the phone number for Visibility and Conversions LLC have reported domestic sounds such as crying babies, etc., when an unidentified woman has answered the phone. Then, when they asked if this is the correct number for the LLC, the woman has hung up.
Regardless of how anyone might feel about the Chamber, this sort of thing has got to raise a red flag. Why is this apparently all-important service being provided to the chamber, apparently by a former employee named Rosenthal, being conducted in a manner that is redolent of a classic money-laundering operation?
Are members of Myrtle Beach City Council – including those two who supposedly represent the interests of the “ordinary people” of Myrtle Beach and not The Dunes set – going to ask any such questions?
Hah! Don’t hold your breath. We’ll see Wayne Gray hosting a seminar on sexual ethics and city employee relations at Fuddruckers before that happens.
Myrtle Beach is trying to move away from being a tourist destination and toward a high class place like Hilton Head.
The only problem is that without tourism, Myrtle Beach does not have the money to sustain its snooty self as a mecca for the rich and famous. And how many rich and famous want to live in Myrtle Beach anyway.
Until Myrtle Beach gets its nose out of those clouds off the coast and into what really matters, and that’s tourism, it will continue to see this discrepancy between what the snooty want and what is reality.
Whoever put these snoots in charge of Sun Fun Week need to go back to the drawing board. What’s next? No Spring Break?
Time to stop the posturing and start living within our means, MB.
Forensic accounting is in order, and that is not cheap. It’s around $60,000 for starters from a top-notch firm. But for that to happen, someone must press a suit for it, stating that the people have a vested interest in knowing what this organization is doing with our tax money.
Here’s the roster of the brain-dead, slobbering sycophants who are responsible for Brad “The $286,000 Bagman” Dean and his Chamber of Corruption, and who should be ostracized and all of their businesses boycotted because of what they have done, and not done to stop all of the shady shenanigans there:
Richard Singleton: Coldwell Banker Chicora Real Estate
Franklin Daniels: Nexsen Pruet
Jim Apple: Burroughs & Chapin
Tommy Bouchette: BNC Bank
Shannon Detzler: The Jackson Companies
Ted Fortenberry: WMBF-TV
Mike Hagg: HTC
Terrance Herriott: Conway National
Suzanne Hinde: Sheraton Convention Center
Bob Jewell: Brookgreen Gardens
Eileen Kim: Edward Jones
Jim LaPier: MB Airport
Mark Lazarus: Wild Water & Wheels
Greg McCollum: Attorney
Bill McGonigal: Ocean Sands Motel
Ken McKelvey: Defender Resorts
George Mims: Grubbs & Ellis
Jay Patrick: Boardwalk Motel
Pete Pearce: MB National
Ebbie Phillips: Tyson Signs
Mil Servant: Surfside Realty
Chris Shroff: Seaside Realty
John Springs: Caledonia & True Blue
Jordon Watkins: Calvin Gilmore
Here a link to their mug shots: http://www.myrtlebeachareachamber.com/about/board_of_directors.html
Thanks for that list. We should all be aware who is on the board at any given time.
At the same time, it’s important to understand that certain board members have cooperated fully over the past couple of years with the feds who are investigating all that “bagman” activity and other suspicious doings by persons connected to the Chamber. That doesn’t mean they have not done us all wrong at some point themselves, but at this time at least they are part of forces that are turning things around – though obviously the process seems to be maddeningly slow to many of us.
Also, the reality is this: 5 people, the “Inner Cabinet”, sometimes called “The Committee” are the ones who really make decisions on important matters. Think of them as the “Dons” of the “Myrtle Beach Mafia” (NOT the real Mafia, I hasten to add. They’re not that smart or organized) Those 5 are more involved with that other important iteration (or component, or whatever) of the Chamber, the GSBB, than they are with the Chamber as a whole.
I appreciate what you are saying here, but not every name on that list is a person who should be considered “the enemy”.