Friday, January 8, 2010

Group looks to change Grand Strand lobbyists in Washington

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Concerned if they're getting they're money's worth, mayors along the Grand Strand say they are looking to change lobbyists in Washington.

The Grand Strand Coastal Alliance, made of the mayors of Surfside Beach, Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach and Atlantic Beach, met on Wednesday to talk about the needs of the area.

Included in their discussions was the most recent news that Congressman Henry Brown was retiring. The group is concerned that without his leadership, the Grand Strand may miss out on millions of dollars needed for several projects from beach renourishment to funding of Interstate 73.

They expressed their dissatisfaction with the lobbying group representing them in Washington, DC. They're worried that with Brown leaving in a few years, they may need someone pushing their interests.

"We're not in the best situation that we've been in for a long time when the congressman leaves office. Hopefully whoever is elected will have the same respect for the Grand Strand," said Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes. "So it's going to be a learning process for whoever is elected and it's a waiting process for us. Unfortunately, we can't afford to wait and I go back to that's why the importance of a lobbyist now."

The mayors noted that with Brown's help from their current lobbyists, the area did get $40 million for beach renourishment. The mayors decided to meet with several lobbyists over the coming weeks to see if there maybe a better option out there. They say they'll also look closely at anyone who wants to run for office to replace Brown.

"That is the message that we have to get out to our next congressman. You need to work closely with us to help us with our needs," said Mayor Marilyn Hatley of North Myrtle Beach.

The mayors will be in Washington in the coming weeks for a conference plan on meeting with some that already have ties to Horry County then.

"Our lobbyist is going to be more important to us now than ever before because they're going to have to work the congressman and the senators, people we don't know. We are going to have to depend on our lobbyists to lead us down that lane," added Rhodes.

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