The need for a Myrtle Beach Black Chamber came from a local think tank marketing group, who were studying the 2010 U.S. Census numbers. The group tabled the numbers until 2013, when the numbers only continued to show how diverse America was becoming and would become moving forward.
In 2013, our city was spending millions promoting tourism, yet our numbers remained in the 14 million to 15 million range. Looking at our key East Coast feeder cities from the Mississippi River to the Atlantic Ocean and from Canada to Georgia, it was clear that we could grow our market by as many as 3 million more tourists annually if we simply marketed to minorities.
The following data was sourced from the 2010 U.S. Census. Highlighted cities feed our market.
We took this data and, using the data bases of a few key resorts that we could access, we realized that the feeder number potential was much higher than the actual number of blacks at each resort. We then ran our own survey and realized that these potential tourists were not being specifically targeted for vacation opportunities to our area. We also learned that this group had high favor-ability numbers for our area (over 80%) and low unfavorable numbers for our area (4%).
The final factors that sent us into action was the future data from the U.S. Census concerning millennials (those under age 31). These below specific numbers and others showed a need for a pro-active, forward thinking community effort:
- There are three minority children born today for every white American birth
- Millennials have no dominant culture. Example: Baby Boomers had a European Culture world view.
- In 2015 Millennials are made up: 51% minority. 49% white.
- Millenials now reach into their 20s and 30s. Their purchasing habits are the very habits needed for tourism growth.
- In 2015: Average age of white America 43, Black America 32, Hispanic America 27
Our local industry must address the dramatic shift in culture and demographic make ups today to grow our tourism base. We need an Advocate for attracting more of the kind of consumers that truly exist in the real world.
With this back drop, I now give you the core of what the Myrtle Beach Black Chamber is about:
The Myrtle Beach Black Chamber is a 501c3 Civic Organization created for the explicit purpose of promoting Myrtle Beach to minority visitors. This is our sole purpose.
The majority of the businesses we serve are white owned and will be white owned for the next 50 years minimum. We operate as an advocate promoting Myrtle Beach to minority tourists. The number of minority tourists visiting Myrtle Beach will grow in double digits annually until the year 2040. Black and Hispanic tourists will outnumber white tourists who visit by the the year 2022.
The Myrtle Beach Black Chamber has acquired and will use its promotional destination vehicle of MyrtleBeachSouthCarolina.com to grow the currently 5 million black tourists who visit to 8 million over the next few short years.
As a civic organization who only focuses on tourism marketing and, for the next ten years, specifically tourism marketing to millennials, the Myrtle Beach Black Chamber holds these core values to guide it in all matters. These principles are termed internally “Our 3 Cs”
- COMMERCE: Our goal is to bring more tourist activity and more tourist dollars to each member of this Myrtle Beach Black Chamber of Commerce. An intentional focus on commerce and avoiding any and all other “shadow” missions will be an every day exercise at the Myrtle Beach Black Chamber of Commerce.
- COMMON SENSE: It will be impossible to operate, if we can not speak to issues like race, multi-cultural experiences, diversity, and the like in a common sense way that is beyond left and right politics or old line racial politics of past generations. While we proudly walk in the footsteps of the civil rights movement, we believe that every person’s innate human quality is unique, individual and ideal. We are not color blind. We simply believe too much is made of color in the world of politics. When we speak of color, we speak of it from marketing and cultural contexts only. We do not hold up any color of people above and beyond any other color of people. Common Sense requires that the new racial make up of America will demand acceptance of self and acceptance of others. We wish to highlight the best of our shared past in America. We choose to let go of any past matters that would keep us from living in true diversity and harmony with all.
- CHRIST: While we are a civic organization, we believe Christ and Christ alone holds all things together. As an act of what some might call Social Civil Disobedience, we refuse to futilely attempt to separate our King and our creator from any of his creation. While we appreciate the past actions of religious civil rights leaders, we choose not to reduce our God to size of politics nor to the size of racial politics. Our God is much bigger than either. We strongly believe in diversity in all things and the oneness that can only be achieved from the indwelling of a living creator permeating all diverse things. It is our desire to see Inspiration in all created things: (Inspiration) The Spirit living within us.
Two particular things in common culture and politics that we do greatly oppose.
- Greed: We see money as a tool and a resource that should be stewarded wisely. We deplore any pragmatic, “the ends justifies the means” approach to acquiring wealth. We believe this is a central concern in business today. We will not support such behavior in any way on behalf of our members.
- Corporate State: We believe it is the role of government to regulate commerce. We believe government should represent citizens first above corporations and large businesses. We are very uncomfortable with the current climate that exists in all political structures from city governments to the federal government of businesses and governments getting into relationships that move beyond the bounds of regulation. We feel strongly that Governments should not pick and choose winners and losers among privately held nor corporately held business organizations.
Finally, as a Black Chamber of Commerce, we do want to address identity politics. The Board asked me this morning to close as follows. Please humor us as we explain in story how we feel about our truest identity in a story from our low country.
It is over the past few Summers that we have often gathered to discuss in detail our plans concerning the Myrtle Beach Black Chamber. In the Southern Low-country of S.C., the Oaks grow tangled and wide. The Summer night sky is often lit up by the light of dozens to hundreds of Fireflies. It is God’s way of saying that all is well in the South.
One night, as we talked from a few front porch swings, we noted that none of us knew what the face of a firefly looked like. It was not the faces of the fireflies that had captured our ongoing attention. It was rather the glow that lit the night sky.
There is a reason I have not gone on and on about the make up of our board nor their combined nor individual impressive background histories. Too much is made of that in America today. The Board simply feels they are not that important. It is the glow that each carries and will carry that we wish to highlight. You either carry that or you don’t. No faking there.