Myrtle Beach Chamber Takes Its Public Responsibilities Seriously

The following is Letter to the Editor of Myrtle Beach Sun Times (MyrtleBeachOnline.com) and can be found in it original print here.  By Todd Setzer and Richard Singleton, board chair and marketing council chair for the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.

Re “Making Myrtle Beach safe again” letter by Rich Malzone.

That letter offered opinions and suggestions to improve our community. We respect all opinions, but the letter also included several inaccuracies that we believe require correction.

We agree the Myrtle Beach area should strive to maintain and build upon the family‐friendly image it has enjoyed for decades. While the actions of a few criminals don’t change the motives of millions of law‐abiding visitors, we must not ignore the crime that occurs here. The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce is committed to working with local government, law enforcement agencies and the at‐large community to ensure the Grand Strand remains a safe, welcoming destination.

In 2014, when faced with an out‐of‐control Memorial Day weekend, the chamber collaborated with the S.C. General Assembly to redirect advertising funds to May law enforcement. Why? Because we recognize that safety is paramount to our economic success and quality of life. Recently, Chamber CEO Brad Dean informed the Myrtle Beach City Council that we will commit to a similar solution to address crime that occurs throughout the year.

The writer suggests Myrtle Beach “handed over about $30 million tax dollars to Brad Dean,” with “little oversight.”

This is not accurate.

The chamber adheres to state laws governing the use of public funds, which are required for tourism promotion. The writer overlooks the stewardship role of our 24‐member board, our 12‐member marketing council and more than 100 volunteer business leaders who oversee the use of publicly‐funded tourism promotion. Our volunteer board of directors is composed of dedicated, hardworking professionals who represent a broad spectrum of our business community. To ignore the oversight provided by this honest, conscientious group of volunteer business leaders who donate their time and expertise to help promote our community is simply misguided.

The chamber holds itself to a high level of accountability and transparency. Each year, the chamber is audited by an independent CPA firm, and we voluntarily publish that audit on our website. The chamber voluntarily discloses details of its expenditure of public funds on a website that also includes our research, conversion studies and details of our marketing plan. And, the chamber submits to an annual review of the impact of its advertising, performed by an economist.

Finally, the writer suggests there should be no publicly‐funded advertising. While we respect his opinion, consider this fact: our competition and every tourism destination in the U.S. invests public funds into promotion. Strategic tourism marketing sustains our economy, creates jobs and keeps our taxes low. It’s a key reason why our tourism industry has grown to record levels, welcoming more than 18 million visitors annually. Ceasing advertising is not the answer to our problems.

Instead, we believe there has never been a more important time than now to promote a positive image for the Myrtle Beach area.

For 79 years, the chamber has served to promote, protect and improve the Grand Strand and its business community. We will continue to do so, with an ongoing commitment to accountability, transparency and excellence.

Like the writer, we have the best interests of the Myrtle Beach area at heart and we hope these facts clear up any misconceptions or misunderstandings regarding transparency, oversight, and the responsible use of public funds at the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.