Revelations Rock(er) Project Blue

New revelations this week about Covation LLC COO David Rocker’s criminal past brought further questions to the viability of the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation’s now infamous Project Blue.

Among other revelations, Rocker failed to file income tax returns for 14 consecutive years while participating in a Klein conspiracy to interfere with the lawful government functions of the IRS.

This new information comes to light as the EDC is lobbying for third reading approval, by county council, of an ordinance that would approve the issuance of $8 million in county general obligation debt as part of an estimated overall $24 million incentive package.

Secrecy Surrounding MBREDC Projects

Secrecy continuing to surround MBREDC projects in Horry County is starting to wear thin with some council members.

Two Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation projects took up most of the time during a meeting of Horry County Council Tuesday night. Of course, most of the discussion about Project Blue and Project AF took place behind closed doors in executive session, which is standard operating procedure for the EDC.

Council member Gary Loftus and council chairman Tom Rice tried to give excuses for the secret sessions, citing such things as the need to keep information secret in order to maintain a negotiating edge and council members were elected by the public to make these kinds of decisions.

Controversial EDC Project Blue on Hold for Now

Controversial MBREDC Project Blue on Hold

The Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation has requested the final vote by Horry County Council on Project Blue incentives be delayed from its currently scheduled September 4, 2012 regular council meeting.

Third reading approval and public review of Ordinance 53-12 is currently listed as a published agenda item for the September 4th meeting. The ordinance proposes to issue up to $8 million in county general obligation debt to help fund incentives of the project. The agenda will have to be amended to delay third reading.

According to information we have received, EDC CEO Brad Lofton notified county officials in an e-mail late Thursday afternoon that, while the project retains full support of the EDC, the agency was requesting a short delay before third reading is considered by council.

Project Blue ran into trouble earlier in the week when myhorrynews.com broke a story about the criminal history of Covation COO David L. Rocker, which includes a tax fraud conviction, jail sentence and continuing tax liens.

COAST Board Member Blasts Council

Mickey James, President of the Myrtle Beach Chapter of the NAACP and member of the COAST RTA board of directors, blasted Horry County Council Tuesday night for its stinginess toward the transit authority’s funding needs.

“No other agency receives the type of challenge and scrutiny (for funding) from this council,” during a presentation to council Tuesday night. “The bar for COAST is always higher.”

The question of funding from Horry County was supposedly decided in November 2010 when Horry County voters passed an advisory referendum, by an over 60 percent margin, to provide approximately $1 million in county funds to COAST on an annual basis. The referendum question was non-binding, but it was decisive.

Open Letter to Horry County Council

The following letter was sent in e-mail form to all members of Horry County Council by an Horry County resident and taxpayer. A copy was provided to Grand Strand Daily. The author expresses his experiences through the years with applying for a job at our newest economic development incentive recipient AvCraft.

Dear Sir or Madam

My name is Andy McCormack and I have been a resident and tax payer of Horry County for 14 years, I have owned a home in Horry County for 13 years and I have 26.5 years as a skilled aircraft painter and 3.5 years of aircraft wire harness fabrication/installation experience. In 1996 I received my permanent residency visa from US immigration based on my skills and experience as an aircraft painter.

Council Approves AvCraft Incentives

Horry County Council approved a $100,000 incentive package and reduced rental on three hangars at Myrtle Beach International Airport for AvCraft Technical Services, Inc., during its regular meeting Tuesday night.

The vote was 8-3 with council members Jody Prince, Carl Schwartzkopf and Marion Foxworth voting nay and council member James Frazier absent.

The incentive package calls for AvCraft to add 150 employees within the next five years. This is the first job development package introduced by the newest version of the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation and its CEO Brad Lofton. When Lofton was hired in April 2011, he signed a contract to produce 500 new jobs in 18 months.

Council Votes on AvCraft Incentives Tuesday

Horry County Council will vote on approving a $100,000 incentive package and formalizing a reduced rental agreement for AvCraft Technical Services, Inc. at its regular meeting Tuesday night.

Council reconsidered the $100,000 incentive package after initially approving it for a code named company. When AvCraft was named as the recipient in late December 2011, some council members moved to reconsider the approval based on AvCraft’s past employment history.

The new incentive package calls for AvCraft to add an additional 150 jobs to its current work force, which is approximately 57 full-time employees.

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.

Reconsidering the AvCraft Bailout

Horry County Council could vote to reconsider the $100,000 economic development incentive package it approved at its December 13, 2011 regular meeting, according to an article published yesterday in the Myrtle Beach Sun News by reporter David Wren.

Council members voted to approve the incentive package for a code named business and did not realize the recipient was AvCraft Technical Services until publicly announced two weeks after the vote. After AvCraft was announced as the recipient in a press conference, some council members became incensed.

Since the controversy erupted, Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation chief executive Brad Lofton and Mike Hill, Chief Operating Officer of AvCraft, have joined council chairman Tom Rice in trying to spin that the current version of AvCraft is a new company, not the same old one that has consistently failed to add new jobs to the area.