The federal government’s report had an ominous sounding name – “Socioeconomic Impact Analysis Study.”
Its conclusions appeared to be just as ominous: the loss of nearly 5,100 jobs; as many as 1,500 homes dumped on the resale market; a 15 percent drop in students attending local schools; unemployment rates topping 20 percent; and an economic loss topping $91 million from payrolls, taxes and other revenues as soon as the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base shut down its operations.
Just as foreboding to many Myrtle Beach area residents was the sense of losing a longtime friend.
“You could never find a better neighbor than the Air Force, it was a great community,” said John Maxwell, a former Myrtle Beach city councilman who helped lead efforts to redevelop the base after its March 31, 1993 closure.
Now, 20 years later, the 3,937-acre former base has been transformed into a model for how closed military facilities can be revitalized to serve their communities.
Its mix of higher-education facilities, ball fields and parks, more than 1,200 homes with more on the way, a Red Cross headquarters and Veterans Affairs clinic, new general aviation and commercial airport terminals, a new technology and aerospace business park and a centerpiece commercial district called The Market Common, with its upscale shops and restaurants, has exceeded nearly everyone’s initial vision for what the base could become.
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