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Tourism: Candidates and board await decision on marketing director

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

The Georgetown County Tourism Management Commission expects to take some action this week regarding two finalists for a new county marketing director job.

But what kind of action it will be, not even members of the commission know, said Helen Benso, the group’s chairwoman. An agenda for a commission meeting today doesn’t include a discussion of the position or finalists, but Sally Hogan, who prepares the agendas, said she too expected the meeting would result in news about the finalists.

Annette Medlin, president of the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce, interviewed four candidates for the position last month and picked Tee Miller of Georgetown, an economic development and business strategy consultant, and Meredith Hart of Myrtle Beach, a community liaison with WBTW News, as the top two.

Last week Medlin was ready to check references and said she planned to make an offer early this week, but she left for Mexico Nov. 2 and didn’t get back until late Wednesday, so she couldn’t be reached for comment this week. Benso said she was unsure if Medlin would make a recommendation about hiring one of the candidates at the commission meeting or if more interviews would need to be scheduled.

The commission wants to have someone at work in the new role by Dec. 1.

Hart said she is hoping to receive some news about the job this week. As far as the hiring process, she’s not sure what happens next, but she’s eager to find out.

She has been looking for a job like this one for a while now.

“Everything I’ve been doing I feel has prepared me for this position,” she said.

A native of east Tennessee, she moved to North Myrtle Beach with her family in 1995 and has worked in marketing and public relations for more than eight years, having been employed by Collins + Company Advertising and Public Relations and LHWH Advertising and Public Relations, both of Myrtle Beach, DSL Services and Ocean Ridge Plantation in Sunset Beach, N.C.

She has an MBA in marketing from Walden University in Minneapolis and a certificate of professional photography from Horry-Georgetown Technical College.

“I have worked with several tourism-related clients throughout the years and feel that I am ready to help the TMC grow its marketing efforts and increase their visitor base,” she said.

She wants to find unique stories in the area she can tell to attract new visitors to the county, as well as those who have visited in the past but might not realize all the area has to offer.

Hart is excited at the prospect of working on the Waccamaw Neck. Her parents, Steve and Karen Hart, live in Murrells Inlet and Steve works at Waccamaw High School, where he teaches physical education and coaches track.

Hart has had the opportunity to spend a lot of time on Waccamaw Neck over the years, she said, and “I’ve really come to know and love Georgetown County well.”

She grew up as a regular visitor to the South Carolina coast.

“I know how great those memories can be for families and I want to help other families have those kinds of memories here,” she said.

Asked about his interest in the position, Miller said he wasn’t ready to comment this week.

“I have yet to interview with the committee,” he said. He didn’t want to talk publicly, other than giving “basic background” information, before that.

A South Carolina native, Miller has lived in Georgetown for six years. In information he provided to Medlin, he said he has worked in “diverse and dynamic environments that have all relied” on his strategic marketing skills.

He started out working in an ad agency and moved into other marketing positions for private companies before moving into the public sector. He worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Commerce and represented the Secretary of Commerce to the business community and associations including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and U.S. Travel Association.

Miller left Washington, D.C., for Columbia, where he was the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s South Carolina director for rural development, responsible for administering the USDA’s Rural Development programs in communities and led a staff of more than 130 employees and 16 offices, delivering more than $1.2 billion in financial assistance.

He left that position in 2009 to do consulting work and has been working with a community group to obtain scenic byway designation for Georgetown County from the state general assembly.

Miller has a masters in communications from the University of Tennessee and an MBA from the University of South Carolina.

“I have recently had job opportunities that would have required me to move away from Georgetown, but I have decided that Georgetown is where I want to raise my family,” Miller said in a letter to Medlin.

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