Tag: Project Blue

County Council Mistake on MBREDC

Horry County Council is about to make another mistake with regard to the MBREDC.

Council will vote Tuesday night on extending its funding contract to the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation for another year. This would commit the county to three more years of funding from the current two.

County council should not have agreed to a new two-year contract when considering its budget for the current fiscal year. It is making a terrible mistake extending the contract.

The excuse is a new executive director for the MBREDC, for which there is a search currently ongoing, will want a three-year contract to agree to a deal.

But, with the history of the MBREDC, not only in its current iteration, but also in all the ones that came before, county council would do better if it burned $1.1 million in the parking lot of the government center as give this agency another dime!

What it is doing here is giving away tax dollars to an agency whose only goal is to give away more tax dollars to bribe companies to relocate to Horry County.

And, it doesn’t do that well!

All we have to do is remember AvCraft, Project Blue, Ithaca Gun Company and PTR Industries to see how woeful has been the performance of MBREDC.

MBREDC Smart Economic Planning or Insanity

On July 7, 2015, the Horry County Council approved another 2-year $2.6 million contract with the MBREDC (Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation.)

This action is probably very confusing for anyone who has followed the progress of the MBREDC over the years.

Have Horry County taxpayers received a proper return on the $1.3 million given annually to the MBRDC during the past 5 years? Certainly any prudent investor would ask about an expected return on investment before committing funds to a corporation, whether a quasi-public/private or solely private one. There is only one measure of success when it comes to investing your (the taxpayers) money and that is the return on investment. In this case the return would be measured in number of residents who got jobs per tax dollars spent.

Unfortunately (for my peace of mind and confidence in our County Council) I did some basic math. The MBREDC receives $1.3 million annually from Horry County taxpayers. The former MBREDC President Brad Lofton had announced 1,500 jobs were created by the MBREDC in Horry County during his 3 years running the agency. Oops – but it appears that half of those jobs have not been filled. Let’s do some easy math; 750 jobs at $1.3M X 3 years of taxpayer money = $5,200 per job. Oops, forgot to subtract the money owed to the county by the current occupant of the Cool Springs Business Park (paid for by taxpayer $). PTR owes $73,000 in back rent as of June. Is it now logical to add $73,000 / 3 = $24,333 to the cost per job? Well probably not, but you get the drift.

Carolina Southern Railroad and Horry County

Carolina Southern Railroad and Horry County officials appear to remain far apart on any plan to get the railroad back in operation.

Service on portions of the rail line was voluntarily suspended by Carolina Southern Railroad officials when new federal regulations, especially on bridges, went into effect in the summer of 2011. Those service interruptions directly affect Horry County.

Since then, the railroad has been searching for funding with which to make the repairs. It joined with Horry County in two unsuccessful applications for discretionary railroad infrastructure TIGER grants from the federal government.

Election Filing Mess Leads 2012 Stories

As we look back on the news of 2012, the top story in South Carolina this year was the election filing mess that kept nearly 300 candidates off the ballot.

Most candidates affected were challengers to incumbent Republicans, although many Democrats got left off too, in the June primary. They were ineligible to be certified as candidates because the state and local Republican and Democratic parties did not understand, and did not make allowance for, a minor change in state law that required electronic filing of the candidates’ Statement of Economic Interests.

The party leaders never saw it coming and they blew it. I don’t believe it was a big conspiracy to keep new candidates off the ballot. Some newcomers did file properly and did get certified, too few for a real democratic process, however.

Project Blue Dies – RIP

Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation president Brad Lofton announced to county council Tuesday night that the agency was discontinuing work on the infamous Project Blue.

This is the same project that Lofton called “Horry County’s Boeing” several months ago.

When the project was first announced back in June, council was notified it was on a fast track with a drop dead date to open by December 31, 2012.

Even though details of the project were sketchy to council and non-existent to the public for the first few months, the project seemed to be moving forward.

Tinubu Hits Rice on Project Blue

At a press conference yesterday, Seventh Congressional District Democratic candidate Gloria Bromell Tinubu charged Republican opponent Tom Rice with crony capitalism for his support of the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation’s notorious Project Blue initiative.

Tinubu pointed to deals benefiting EDC board members and Rice contributors associated with the project which purports to have a startup business called Covation bring a 1,000 job call center to Horry County.

At the heart of Tinubu’s charges are the $24-$30 million public dollars incentives for a project with a brand new company whose details have been kept out of public view through a series of county council “executive sessions” to discuss the project.

More Dirty Tricks

The past two days we have attempted to discover the source of a door hanger, that Grand Strand Daily has labeled “dirty tricks”. The door hanger appears to be a push piece favoring one candidate in the House District 56 race while claiming to be a non-partisan informational message to voters.

That quest continues as we are awaiting information from Freedom Works Southeast Regional Director Allen Page as to who printed and who paid for the door hanger. We were told yesterday that Page had all the information and would be in contact with Grand Strand Daily.

Regardless of the provenance of the door hanger and whether it is in fact a partisan piece, one question addressed on it falls into another area of dirty tricks that is much more egregious, in our opinion.

The Checkered Past of David L. Rocker

Additional revelations about David Rocker, Chief Operating Officer of Covation, the company associated with the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Authority’s embattled Project Blue, reached Grand Strand Daily in the last several days.

Project Blue ran into trouble a month ago when myhorrynews.com and the Myrtle Beach Herald broke several stories about Rocker’s criminal history, which includes a tax fraud conviction, jail sentence and continuing tax liens.

Among other facts, the stories outlined a Klein conspiracy where corporate receipts from National Capital Group, Inc., an alleged investment entity run by Rocker, were diverted to other bank accounts for Rocker’s personal use. Additionally, a trust account in an ABN AMRO Bank branch in Canada is mentioned.

Santee Cooper, Corp. Welfare and Rising Rates

Santee Cooper and 20 associated electric coops in the state are providing economic development cash and rate cuts while raising the rates on current customers.

The electric company’s board recently approved rate hikes of 3.5 percent per year for the next two years for its residential, commercial, industrial and municipal customers. This on top of a rate increase in 2010, which brings the total increase into double digits.

At the same time, Santee Cooper provides tens of thousands of dollars in economic development incentives and up to a 20 percent rate reduction for new or expanding companies.

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.