‘It was a tough year’: Horry County Council chair focuses on economic recovery from pandemic in 2021

Grand Strand

CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) – Horry County leaders are looking to guide the government as the coronavirus pandemic continues into the new year.

Like everywhere across the country, Horry County is looking to bounce back after a difficult 2020 because of COVID-19.

“It was a tough year,” said Horry County Council chair Johnny Gardner. “There’s no doubt about it. There’s no need to try and say it wasn’t.”

In his state of the county address at Tuesday night’s council meeting, Gardner talked about balancing the area’s population growth and COVID-19 recovery.

He also says a dispute of several years with cities like Myrtle Beach should be resolved.

“If we do settle the hospitality fee lawsuit, that will help everybody [including] the other municipalities as well,” he said.

Gardner also says the pandemic has forced the county to adapt, by improving how emergency departments coordinate and offering more online services, which are lessons that can be used after COVID-19 finally goes away.

“We’re trying to make our computers even more user friendly and this year, we’re going to do that,” said Gardner. “We’re going to streamline a lot of things, make a lot of things easier for our citizens to maneuver.”

The pandemic’s economic pain hasn’t stopped yet, as the county looks to fund many new projects. They include the new emergency operations center, a county police building in Myrtle Beach, road construction and flood prevention efforts.

The next step is figuring out how to afford those projects.

“We had a lot of harm done across the board, all the way from top to bottom,” Gardner said. “The revenues were down, business was down. It hurt the economy.”

Gardner also says council should have a better idea of just how COVID-19 will impact the county financially at council’s next budget meeting on Jan. 15.

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