By Paul Gable
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.
However, when local media began uncovering information on the past of Covation, LLC Chief Operating Officer David Rocker, the project slowed down. Covation, LLC was the company that the county was negotiating with on the project.
There is no need to regurgitate the many past problems Rocker brought to the table, but it should not have taken the EDC this long to pull the plug on the project after his indiscretions came to light.
Nevertheless, Project Blue is gone, the county won’t be asked to provide or guarantee over $10 million of county taxpayer money and the total $24 million of incentive money is saved.
Lofton told council EDC had created 400 jobs in the last year. This is not exactly true. The agency has announced initiatives which promise to create 400 jobs within certain time frames in the future. The actual number of jobs created, staffed and working are significantly less.
When Lofton was first hired in May 2011, he promised to product 500 jobs within his first 18 months. That goal was missed as none were created in his first six months and the 400 claimed for this year is the total in that 18 month period.
It can only be hoped projects that may be forthcoming in the future are subjected to better due diligence by the EDC before county taxpayer money is introduced into the discussions.