MAYOR JOHN RHODES AND BRAD DEAN LEAVE FOR CHINA AFTER DISCUSSING DOWNTOWN REDEVELOPMENT WITH PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA LEADERS IN MYRTLE BEACH THIS PAST WEEK.
Myrtle Beach City Mayor John Rhodes and Chamber President, Brad Dean, leave today for China on a ten day trip paid for by the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. This visit, after meeting with Chinese government officials just last week discussing investments to develop the downtown Myrtle Beach area where the Myrtle Beach pavilion once stood.
In defending those investment discussions, Myrtle Beach Mayor Rhodes told the Myrtle Beach Sun News yesterday, Mayor Rhodes said he’s been interested in establishing a connection with China because investors from the country show the most interest in the area. “I sure don’t see investors in America knocking at my door to do things,” Rhodes said. “There are areas of Myrtle Beach we need to redevelop, and we’re looking at who has the money.”
This pragmatic answer has not set well with local downtown merchants. “In-state investor” attempts have been made by several, including the Mayor of Columbia, Steven Benjamin. Several interested American investors, who are not connected to two inside Myrtle Beach corporations, tell us they find getting past Myrtle Beach planning and zoning and the Myrtle Beach Community Appearance Board very challenging. The Chinese, on the other hand, appear to be very welcomed by the City of Myrtle Beach. The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce appear very fond of these Chinese nationals as well.
Mayor John Rhodes worked with county council chair Mark Lazarus last Spring in an effort to bring a $100 million Chinese cultural center to the former location of the Hard Rock Theme Park. Insiders have told us that this transaction will likely occur.
The Downtown Redevelopment Corporation has begun handing out citations to small business owners in the former Myrtle Beach pavilion area. Local merchants are not sure what to expect in the way of change as the relationships between Mayor John Rhodes, Chamber President Brad Dean, two local corporations, and the communist Chinese continue to grow.