By Paul Gable
A little less than a year ago, Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes told citizens crime in Myrtle Beach was at a 20 year low.
Last week Myrtle Beach officials hosted a forum at the Base Recreation Center near Market Common to address the heroin epidemic that is raging in Myrtle Beach and throughout Horry County.
A few days after the forum, a drug sting in the Racepath neighborhood resulted in 42 arrests for possession of controlled substances and intent to distribute controlled substances.
What changed in a year?
Well, 2015 was an election year for Myrtle Beach City Council and 2016 is not.
Another area of interest is the supposed $100 million project Chinese investors were supposed to be planning for the Myrtle Beach area.
Six months ago, Rhodes and Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus traveled to China for a two week trip. Upon their return, Rhodes and Lazarus announced investors associated with the $100 million investment would be visiting the area within 60-90 days and details of the project would be made public at that time.
We are now 90 days beyond that timeframe and things have gone very quiet about the supposed project.
In the interim, we have heard Rhodes went to China for a week and has another trip planned for next week.
Meanwhile, Black Bear golf course, purchased by Chinese investors two years ago, recently closed. What does that say about Chinese investment in the area?
Maybe an indicator is the China City of America project proposed for Sullivan County, New York five years ago. Initially touted as a $6 billion project complete with a college, family residences, a theme park and a casino, the project has been scaled back to just the for-profit college for approximately 900 students, most of whom will come from China.
The project seems to be more about taking advantage of the EB-5 Visa program than real investment to bring jobs and benefit citizens in the area.
One thing we can count on is that Myrtle Beach City Council will shortly extend the city’s one-cent tourism tax for another 10 years guaranteeing public dollars (to the tune of over $25 million per year) will continue to be used for private business marketing.
Interesting what goes on in off-years in an election cycle that is never discussed in election years.