Gingrich, Myrtle Beach, Oil and Interstates

Grand Strand Business Alliance Candidates

By Paul Gable

The Grand Strand Business Alliance is smothering the airwaves, in these last days before Tuesday’s voting in the Myrtle Beach City Council elections, promoting the re-election of the incumbent council members.

The basic theme in these ads is business is up, the tourism initiative of the city council is working, there is no need to change the council makeup when the incumbents are doing such a great job.

And they are, but only for the select few.

These ads take the same vein as the Chamber’s ‘Oh yeah, it’s working’ ads promoting the alleged success of the one cent sales tax for tourism promotion.

Why not? It’s essentially the same group responsible for both sets of ads? (Read the Myrtle Beach Mafia here).

It may well be working for some but it certainly is not working for the benefit of all. You need look no farther than the downtown area of Myrtle Beach to see this.

Two mainstays of downtown Myrtle Beach for decades, Studebakers and the Beachwagon, are now Dollar Generals. Two others, the Pavilion amusement park and Myrtle Square Mall, are empty lots.

Up and down Kings Highway and Ocean Boulevard, the number of vacant storefronts is startling if business in the city is really so great. The blight is somewhat worse south of the former pavilion site, but that’s to be expected from this crowd of incumbents.

What does that say about dynamism and progress in the downtown Myrtle Beach area?

For all the money the city has directed to the Downtown Redevelopment Corporation over the years, where the hell is the downtown redevelopment?

Is it really working or is that just a propaganda line in the sentiment of ‘If you tell the big lie often enough, people will believe it’?

Even the much touted benefits of the one cent sales tax to promote tourism works to the benefit of the large hotel, condotel or whatever tel owners much more than the small businesses who could use a ‘leg up’.

And the largest benefactors from the owner occupied property tax reduction benefit from this same sales tax are those same business owners who also own expensive homes in the north end of the city.

It’s a double whammy for the Myrtle Beach Mafia.

The divide between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ is widening in Myrtle Beach just as it is around the country and the incumbents on city council don’t seem to care.

Maybe ‘It’s working’ for the select few of the Grand Strand Business Alliance, which is a distinction without a difference from the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce board.

Of course, all of the above does fit in well with what I believe is a planned land grab in the downtown oceanfront area, by our Myrtle Beach Mafia friends, before real redevelopment begins.

But, for the vast majority of Myrtle Beach citizens, ‘It’s Not Working’ and the only way it’s ever going to work is to register dissatisfaction at the polls by ousting the incumbents.




  1. Coastal Academy Grad

    I can only speak from my point of view, but I disagree with your article. My parents moved to Myrtle Beach in the mid 1970’s and purchased a small oceanfront motel. They worked hard, put in long hours and made a good living for our family. They were able to build a nice home just outside of the city on Singleton Swash. They saved and bought other properties. As I and my siblings grew up, we got involved by running the different properties. We belonged to the Chamber of Commerce and we worked almost like partners to keep our motel rooms and our restaurants full of guests and customers. This string of small businesses allowed my generation to earn a good living as well. We married and had children. We bought or built homes. And in the heady days of the 1990’s and early 2000’s, we transformed the family businesses. We combined and traded properties with others and replaced those old family motels with large high rise condominium complexes. We were able to pay for the new construction with the condo sales and still run them like hotels. The tax code changes made it more profitable to manage property than to own it. And we only took advantage of the laws as written. These properties make a very good income and we no longer have to actually work in them. But we do employ many of those you write about. Their income level may not be great by many standards but it is not bad for Myrtle Beach. This arrangement will allow our children to also be able to be provided for at an acceptable level. I no longer live in Myrtle Beach, but I live not far away. My brother still lives in my parents house, but it has been annexed into the city. These resort properties have become money making machines and that is good for our economy. The new Ad Tax is great. We no longer have to spend tens of thousands of dollars on advertising. As long as we stay in good standing with the Chamber, they now have the marketing dollars from the collective tax to keep our properties full. That adds to our bottom line and frees up resources we can better use elsewhere. With that money that we would be spending on advertising for our business, we can now invest in other properties to begin the makeover. That creates more construction jobs. The new properties will employ more people in the service industry. And my brother even gets a tax break on mom and dad’s old place. I wish I could get that property tax break too, but we chose to move outside of the city because of the increasing crime and drug activity there. We don’t feel that atmosphere is ideal for our children. I still shop in Myrtle Beach and I come into to town on a regular basis. When I ride by our high rise properties, I stop and think about how far we have come and how great Myrtle Beach has been to my family. I wish I could vote for John Rhodes because of what he has done for us.

  2. The problem with what you say is that is applies to you, your family, and some others who made the same or singular choices. But there were other choices to make and different kinds of families with different ideas, ideals and chosen career paths. The way the system is rigged now in MB, most of the promotion paid for by the Ad Tax goes to promote the resort properties, restaurants, golf courses and other venues owned by a handful of elites tied to the Inner Cabinet of the Grand Strand Business Association. Their cronies are thrown crumbs from time to time, but most others — even those who own ocean-front hotels — are out of luck on that count. Oh, if they belong to the chamber, they get SOME referrals, but few of them pan out. In every regard, it is the self-chosen few who get the lions share of the benefits from that heinous tax, passed by legislative fiat and no the will of the people.

  3. And let’s also remember that the ability of some of these family members to create an unlimited number of LLCs tied to their properties or those of their cronies — contracts for golf packages, for example — is one of the ways that they manage to totally dominate the chamber and GSBA. In essence, these contract-based LLCs are nothing more than words on paper. But they give great power to those who own them, and that means that the Brittains and Chapmans (tied by blood and by marriage) and a small number of crony business interests have a massive advantage over everyone else.

  4. Thus this cartel that some call The Myrtle Beach Mafia uses unfair trade practices at every level, even against members of the chamber. And against businesses that are NOT members of the chamber they are far, far more ruthless. The influence and power they exert of City Hall has rarely been challenged in recent years. Now they are being openly called out, and candidates are being called out on the degree to which they are in thrall to “The Bigs.” Not to mention the federal authority being on the case — and let no one kid you, they are going to take a good many people away for an extended stay in one of their own signature properties. Like a group package. A new day is dawning in Myrtle Beach. I suggest you diversify your portfolio.

  5. Coastal Academy Grad

    Boz, I hear what you are saying and it is hard to disagree with. However, as I said in my opening sentence, for my family it has been great. We are in good with the Chamber, we pay our dues and we contribute only to the Chamber’s selected politicians when we are asked to by the Chamber leaders. And as a result, we get taken care of by the Chamber. We get the referrals, we get attention from City Hall and the police department always responds quickly and in force. I am sorry for those that don’t and I don’t blame them for not supporting the incumbents. But for me and my friends, ‘Oh yea, it is working’.

  6. Enjoy it while you can.