Monday, January 02, 2012

AvCraft has history of unfulfilled goals

AvCraft received $200,000 in incentives from the South Carolina Department of Commerce and Horry County

MYRTLE BEACH – Three days after AvCraft, an airplane maintenance company, announced plans to create an estimated 150 jobs in a five year expansion, some Horry County council members regret voting for incentives for the company.

During the announcement News 13 learned AvCraft would receive $100,000 from the South Carolina Department of Commerce and another $100,000 from Horry County – a decision Horry County council approved.

But council members said Monday, at the time of the vote they didn't know what local company was expanding – only that it was going to happen.

AvCraft Technical Services has existed since 2010 and will expand.

AvCraft Support Services was the name of the company when it was first established in 2004 and when more than a million dollars of incentives were approved to create 80 jobs back then.

The company only ended up creating around 50 steady jobs and only received around $500,000 of the incentives.

"You still have to think about the history of the organization, where they've been what they've done in the past, and the likelihood of it probably happening again in the future," said Councilman Carl Schwartzkopf.

AvCraft Technical Services is under new leadership at the top.

The company’s president Mike Hill did work for the previous company however.

Brad Lofton, Myrtle Beach EDC, said some job creation is better than no job creation

“[In 2004 AvCraft Support Services] didn't get 100% of their incentives. They created 60 high paying jobs. They’re growing. They’re working on new contracts. We’re confident in their new leadership team.'

Meanwhile some council members said if they'd known they were voting to give AvCraft the incentives they would have never approved it.

Councilman Marion Foxworth said he voted against AvCraft incentives three separate times and felt he was “duped” into voting.

Others said that knowledge may have changed their vote.

"I just think it would have been important for the council members to have more information than what they've received in the past," Schwartzkopf said.

Lofton said it’s completely normal for economic leaders to refer to companies by code names because it prevents other counties from swooping in and trying to persuade the companies to move to other areas.

Schwartzkopf said taking the expansion project into executive session would have preserved AvCraft’s anonymity

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