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A little known economic engine in North Myrtle Beach - By Jim Hulen

Grand Strand Airport, located in the heart of the city of North Myrtle Beach, generates over $10.1 million in total economic output according to a study by the SC Division of Aeronautics. Airports measure their size in operations (takeoffs and landings.) While other area airports are reporting declines in operations, Grand Strand Airport reports a 23% increase in this year's first quarter operations over last year's.

Bob McGroarty, Operations Manager of Ramp 66, which manages Grand Strand Airport says, “Operations at Grand Strand are only 3,000 less than operations at Myrtle Beach International. This has been consistent for over the past two years and that includes only Grand Strand operations occurring from 7am to 9pm." McGroarty added, “Many people think that the majority of our operations come from banner planes, but they only amount to 2 to 3 percent of all takeoffs and landings. About 40% is from transient traffic - private planes that stopover to refuel. Grand Strand is a convenient midpoint for north-south traffic. “Another percentage - about 20% - is a direct result of the coastal nature of our community. Many pilots use the convenience of Grand Strand Airport to easily reach their second homes or condos in the North Myrtle Beach area.

“The remainder is from the 40 to 45 planes that are based here,"concluded McGroarty.

Consistent with the second home nature of North Myrtle Beach, the Grand Strand Airport will generate 46% of its traffic in the three summer months of June, July and August. The Federal, South Carolina and Horry County Governments have recognized the value of Grand Strand Airport and have invested over $1 million in the last four years. These dollars have been used to redo the runway, build a security fence around the facility and improve signage. The strong support of the community and the City of North Myrtle Beach has enabled the Grand Strand Airport to remain where it is, despite efforts sometime back to sell the land for development and move the airport farther inland.

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