Local News

Researching Lofton

In the wake of county council’s reconsideration of incentives and reduced rent to AvCraft at Tuesday night’s regular meeting of council, Brad Lofton, chief executive of the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation, told the Myrtle Beach Sun News other companies would be watching the treatment of AvCraft.

According to the Sun News story, Lofton said businesses that consider setting up shop in Horry County will undoubtedly research the area and see how it treats existing industry. In addition, Lofton said other prospects that MBREDC is talking to are monitoring the AvCraft situation and awaiting the outcome.

In the spirit of full disclosure, it seemed appropriate to research Lofton’s past in other locations to determine how he performed.

Photo Credit: The Myrtle Beach Digitel/Creative Commons

Council to AvCraft “Sell Us”

Mike Hill, Chief Operating Officer of AvCraft Technical Services, Inc., will have the opportunity next week to demonstrate to Horry County Council members why the county should provide economic development funds and reduced rent to his company.

Hill complained to the media last week that he ‘failed to understand why some area politicians continue to criticize his business (AvCraft) which has no financial or ownership relation to the one that failed to live up to job promises years ago.’ Now Hill has the opportunity to sell council on the idea that the present AvCraft is indeed a new company, but he will have to provide supporting documents and other information to justify that position.

Council voted 9-3 Tuesday night to hold up those funds and a new, reduced rent lease agreement until AvCraft and the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation (MBREDC) make a presentation to council’s Committee of the Whole (COW) on the benefits to the county of moving forward with the deal.

AvCraft Incentive Funds on Hold

By a 9-3 vote, Horry County Council reconsidered its decision to give $100,000 of incentive development funds to AvCraft Technical Services at its regular meeting tonight. Included in the motion was a requirement for the company and the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation (MBREDC) to come before council’s committee of the whole next week to justify why AvCraft should receive the funds.

AvCraft was specifically requested to provide a presentation to the committee of the whole that includes its new business plan as well as justification why its current promise to provide new jobs will have a different result than its three similar promises in the past which have resulted in no new jobs. Rather than just saying it will create new jobs, AvCraft will have to prove to council members it has a solid plan to justify that position.

In addition, council voted 12-0 to delay third reading on a new lease for AvCraft. That decision will also be made after next week’s committee of the whole meeting.

The AvCraft Bailout, No Strings Attached to $1.25 Million

Washington, D.C. politicians have nothing on Horry County Council members when it comes to bailing out business.

In an attempt to help AvCraft Technical Services, Inc. become profitable, county council reduced the rent on three hangars occupied by the company at Myrtle Beach International Airport by approximately $1.25 million over a five-year period.

Third and final reading of the lease agreement, Ordinance 53-11, is scheduled for the regular meeting of Horry County Council Tuesday night January 10, 2012. The lease is between Myrtle Beach International Airport and KNH Aviation Services, Inc. the holding company for AvCraft assets.

However, while final approval of the lease awaits council action Tuesday, according to the Horry County Public Information Office, AvCraft has been paying the lower rent since October 2010 through a space use agreement between the airport and the company.

Horry County Announces Economic Incentives to AvCraft Again

Accompanied by glowing pronouncements from state and some local officials, AvCraft Technical Services, Inc. received a second round of incentives from Horry County and the state with the promise to create 150 new jobs over the next three years.

“AvCraft’s decision to expand their workforce by 150 employees is a tremendous testimony of our attractiveness as an aviation destination. I am thankful for the company’s commitment to Horry County and proud of our economic development team for this terrific announcement,” said Tom Rice, chairman of the Horry County Council.

“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. Bringing jobs and investment to our state continues to be a top priority of this administration, and we will build on this year’s success in 2012,” said Gov. Nikki Haley.

Is Justice Truly Blind?

An accounting for expense funds in the Southern Holdings case provided Sep. 15, 2011, to James Spencer, former CEO of Southern Holdings, Inc., does not conform to S.C. reporting requirements for attorney trust funds.

The accounting, which, reportedly, comes from trust account records of attorney John Rakowsky, was provided to Spencer by attorney Stephanie Weissenstein of the Desa, Ballard, Weissenstein Law Firm. Weissenstein is representing Rakowsky in an interpleader action of the remaining Southern Holdings expense funds held in trust by Rakowsky. Rakowsky represented Spencer and his co-plaintiffs in the Southern Holdings case,

Under deposits, an amount of $67,500 is shown with no identification of who provided the funds or when they were provided. Rule 417 of the S.C. Judicial Department and Rule 1.15 of the South Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct require the date, source and description of each amount deposited to be included in the records.

Billionaire Named New CCU Football Coach

Coastal Carolina University announced today that Joe Moglia, 62, former CEO and current Chairman of Wall Street firm TD Ameritrade, will be its new head football coach.

To call the announcement shocking is an understatement. Moglia, whose net worth is reportedly $1.2 billion, according to Forbes Magazine, is certainly the first billionaire to head up a Division I-AA college football program. Mark that as a first for CCU.

The announcement ends a three year quest during which Moglia left the financial services industry and returned to coaching football after a 25 year career on Wall Street. However, it is the quest and the number of years out of coaching that raises eyebrows.

County, Railroad Left Out of Grant Awards

Horry County learned today that it would not be receiving any Tiger III program grant money from the U.S. Department of Transportation for the local railroad.

The county had applied for a $21 million grant from the program to help Carolina Southern Railroad upgrade its infrastructure.

According to information from the USDOT, $511 million was approved for grants today with $150 million for critical projects in rural areas. Ten percent of the total was approved for freight rail projects including the Muldraugh Bridge Replacement project in Kentucky.

Horry County to Control Admin Search

By a vote of 11-1, Horry County Council members said they would be the sole body to choose the new county administrator.

Council members were presented with a plan for the search process that would have included input into the process by outside groups such as stakeholders and county staff. The process, supported by Chairman Tom Rice, would have had the finalists chosen and ranked by county council. The finalists would next meet with county stakeholders and county staff, who would provide independent input and cause a possible adjustment to the rankings first set by council.

Horry County and Dubai

Remember when, then, Horry County Council Chairman Liz
Gilland used a portion of her county expense allowance to travel to Dubai, in March 2009?

According to Gilland, at the time, she spent $2,000
of public funds to join a S.C. Department of Commerce economic development trip to make sure Horry County got consideration in future investment by that small Arab state. Her justification was “If I don’t play, we strike out.” Gilland played but Horry County, to this date, has not even gotten up to bat.

The following is a blog post provided to Grand
Strand Daily from a U.S. citizen recently traveling in Dubai, who requested to remain anonymous. It appears Horry County was fortunate to never get into the game.