By Pat Dowling
The North Myrtle Beach COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force formed by the mayor and City Council on April 20 met for the first time on April 21. Listen to the complete meeting recording at https://youtu.be/nAA0barN9qg.
The members of the task force and the categories they are involved in are Mendel Bell (medical spa and interactive media), Frank Boulineau (retail), Brandon Cox (vacation rentals), Jim Eggen (accommodations), Johnathan Fussell (hospitality), Joe Gosiewski (residents), Chad Hatley (development, motels and the Grand Strand Business Alliance), Cheryl Kilday (North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce & CVB), Mike Mahaney (city), Jeff Martini (restaurants and bars), Marc McDowell (banking), Billy McGonigal (accommodations), Ray Sessions (insurance and financial services), and Cathy Weis (residents).
Leadership at McLeod Loris Seacoast Hospital will also advise the task force.
During its April 21 meeting, the task force unanimously elected Cheryl Kilday as chairperson and Cathy Weis as vice-chairperson.
According to its defining resolution, the task force exists solely to advise the mayor and City Council on issues related to economic recovery in North Myrtle Beach in the aftermath of the COVID-19 emergency. Areas of task force focus include but are not limited to identifying resources, such as grants, loans and other financial assistance, available to businesses in the city; establishing public outreach and information programs; and recommending possible City Council actions that would aid economic recovery.
As part of its duties, the task force will review any relevant data, studies, assessments, reports and evaluations relating to the economic impact of COVID-19 in North Myrtle Beach, Horry County and South Carolina and may hear additional presentations and comments from relevant stakeholders and members of the public.
The task force will prepare a written report with information and recommendations to City Council, including but not limited to information regarding available resources, for communicating such information to the public and for possible City Council actions that would aid economic recovery.
The enabling resolution also stipulates that the task force is advisory only and does not have the power or authority to commit the city or any of its agencies or instrumentalities to any policies, incur any financial obligations or to create any liability, contractual or otherwise, on behalf of the city or any of its agencies or instrumentalities.
The task force may establish, adopt and amend bylaws, rules and regulations for its own governance, and may elect, by majority vote, one of its members as chairperson and one of its members as vice-chairperson.
The chairperson presides at all meetings at which she is present. The vice-chairperson shall act as chairperson in the absence of the chairperson. In the event that neither the chairperson nor the vice-chairperson can preside at a meeting, the members present select a member from those present to preside over that meeting.
To conduct any business or to exercise any power vested in the task force, a quorum consisting of a majority of those appointed to the task force must be present.
The members of the task force serve without compensation and are not eligible for reimbursement of expenses accrued while serving as a member of the task force, including travel expenses.
The task force will provide a written report with recommendations to the City Council within 30 days of the Task Force’s initial meeting (April 21). The initial report and subsequent periodic reports will address the topics previously described above. The City Council may then request such further work of the Task Force as may be in the public interest.
The COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force will automatically dissolve on December 8, 2020.
“This task force is charged with representing the interests of all in our community,” said Mayor Marilyn Hatley. “Community stakeholders include our residents; nonresident property owners; our businesses; our vacationers, many of whom have been loyal to our city for generations; and others. As it is safe to do so, we have to continue to move forward to a new normal. We want to do this in a wise and thoughtful manner. Those we have appointed to the task force understand that we cannot force things forward, and we cannot afford to make significant mistakes. They are all good analytical thinkers and problem solvers, and they represent key facets of our particular community.”
“We all understand that we cannot just allow economic recovery to happen,” said Task Force Chairperson Cheryl Kilday. “To the extent that we can, we must guide that recovery for the safety and benefit of the community. What will all of the different business categories do to keep their customers safe when they enter their premises? What will businesses require of customers entering their premises? What will vacationers expect of our accommodations, restaurants and other businesses? What will our businesses and community expect of vacationers? How comfortable are our residents with the gradual reopening of our economy? What safeguards would they like to see in place? These and many other questions underscore the fact that we must all work to establish trust among all stakeholders, and we will all work to do just that.”