Myrtle Beach Area Chamber Maintains Five-Star Accreditation

5star_colorMyrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce has repeated its five-star accreditation from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, placing it among the top 2 percent of more than 7,000 chambers.

The accreditation is based on sound policies, effective organizational procedures and positive impact on the community. The chamber earned a perfect score in the facilities section and was commended for its comprehensive board of directors orientation handbook, establishing itself as an advocate for the business community through a variety of practices, including hosting fundraisers in support of business-friendly candidates, and for its efforts to provide a no-cost online forum for members to post job openings and provide links to continuing educational opportunities.

Of the 7,077 chambers of commerce in the United States, 213 of them are accredited. Out of that number, 89 are five-star chambers.

The chamber earned its first five-star rating in 2010 and will keep its current designation until 2019.

Diana Greene, executive vice president of MBACC membership programs & services, headed the review process.

“To achieve this five-star rating, staff once again performed an intensive self-assessment of our operations in nine sections that covered everything from governance and governmental affairs to program development and benchmarking. The process provided an opportunity to review what has been accomplished, but, more importantly to chart the path forward,” Greene explained. “The accreditation process combined into one document all of the outstanding achievements and contributions of board members, volunteers and staff who make the chamber a five-star organization. We should all be extraordinarily proud of this milestone achievement. It was a true team effort.”

Brad Dean, president and CEO, Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, praised the chamber and staff for being recognized with the top rating of five-star accreditation. “I am impressed every day with the impact this chamber has on the community and our members,” Dean said. “There is a lot of hard work being done to move this community forward and to have the distinction of being one of the top chambers in the country adds to our credibility and effectiveness.”

U.S. Chamber accreditation is the only national program recognizing chambers for their effective organizational procedures and community involvement. Accreditation allows chambers to renew, improve and promote sound business practices, policies and procedures. Local chambers are rated accredited, three-stars, four-stars or five-stars. The final determination is made by the Accrediting Board, a committee of U.S. Chamber board members and chamber executives from across the country.


November 28, 2014 at 8:12 pm Leave a comment

Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce Encourages Residents to “Shop Our Members”


Residents of the Myrtle Beach area are encouraged to keep their dollars local this holiday season.

The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce’s “Shop Our Members” campaign offers money-saving discounts to the public, while promoting the great products and services available along the Grand Strand. The initiative continues through Dec. 14, 2014.

As an added incentive to shop locally, the MBACC will be awarding holiday cash. Shoppers can simply drop by one of the MBACC’s three welcome centers, show receipts from area businesses totaling $150 or more and be entered into a drawing for one of five $250 gift cards. The drawing will take place Dec. 17, 2014.

In addition to the Shop Our Members campaign, residents are encouraged to hit the sidewalks of Myrtle Beach for the Myrtle Beach Shopping Days, running Nov. 28 through Nov. 30, 2014. There, shoppers will find sidewalk sale bargains. This event coincides with American Express’ Small Business Saturday and Black Friday, the traditional start of the holiday shopping season.

November 27, 2014 at 7:31 am Leave a comment

Member Spotlight: Keep Our Pets Food Bank

Linda Donahue’s five years spent volunteering at Coastal Animal Rescue opened her eyes to the hardships some pet owners face.

Specifically, according to her husband, Bill, she witnessed a number of senior citizens turn their pets in because they could no longer afford to feed them.

So, Linda decided to do something about it. She founded Keep Our Pets Food Bank in January 2012 in an effort to ensure these companions for many of the Myrtle Beach area’s seniors could continue living in their homes.

KeepOurPetsSadly, Linda lost her battle with cancer on Aug. 30, 2012. Still, her mission continues moving forward, as Bill and her children have taken over the operation of the Murrells Inlet food bank.

“My wife’s legacy is more of what I’m interested in,” Bill said.

The majority of their supply of pet food comes from manufacturers out of Georgia. Keep Our Pets also accepts donations from those within the community.

In the future, Bill wants to see his organization adopt a “Fix Yer Kritter” initiative, which is a spay and neuter program.

For now, Keep Our Pets’ ultimate goal is a simple, yet important, one – keeping those animals in their homes so they can continue to be loved and cherished by their owners.

Keep Our Pets Food Bank is located at 4764 U.S. 17 Bypass South in Murrells Inlet. For more information, go to

by Brad Dickerson, media communications manager, Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce/Convention and Visitors Bureau

November 24, 2014 at 3:04 pm Leave a comment

Big South Championships Putting Together Organizing Committee

The Big South Basketball Championships return to the Myrtle Beach area March 3 through March 8, 2015, and now is the time to get involved and make them the biggest ones yet.

Promoters are looking to put together a local organizing committee that would serve to promote the Big South Championships throughout the area, and tout its positive impact on the entire Myrtle Beach area.

The primary responsibilities for committee members would be:
• Promoting the Big South Basketball Championships locally in Myrtle Beach and Conway
• Attending host committee meetings as needed
• Speaking to community groups in the Myrtle Beach and Conway areas about the positive impact of the championships
• Being an ambassador for the championships
• Working to shed a positive light on the event to keep in the Myrtle Beach area past 2016

Anyone who is interested should contact Rachel Ammon, marketing coordinator for the Big South Championships, at The deadline for inquiries is Nov. 19, 2014.

November 12, 2014 at 9:19 pm Leave a comment

Member Spotlight: Freedom Fidos

BrinksMatt Burgess’ service dog Brinks – like the security system – couldn’t be more aptly named. Among other tasks Brinks wakes his owner, and founder of the nonprofit Freedom Fidos, up during the night when Burgess’ sleep apnea causes him to stop breathing.

Freedom Fidos provides task-trained service dogs and the promise of lifelong support for veterans and disabled children.

Burgess served in the Army and was deployed to Bosnia and Macadonia in the mid-1990s. After Sept. 11, he was compelled to serve his country again with the National Guard and deployed to Iraq in 2003. He had an adverse reaction to mandatory vaccines and blast explosions in Iraq resulted in multiple, traumatic brain injuries that continue to cause pain more than a decade later.

After injury forced him to retire from the military, he said he used several resources including counseling and had a great support system, but still didn’t feel self-reliant.

“I had a great support system, but something was missing,” he said. “Once I got Brinks as my service dog, that final slice was given to me. That’s Freedom Fidoswhat a lot of veterans and people with disabilities are going through right now.”

Fueled by compassion for his compatriots and noticing the need for service dogs, Burgess started Freedom Fidos in June 2014. Since its founding, the nonprofit has teamed up three dogs with two veterans and a child, is currently working with four veterans and has 12 more on a waiting list.

“There’s a huge need,” Burgess said of matching service dogs to veterans. “We’re averaging a call a day of someone looking for a service dog.”

Burgess said helping others gain the independence and confidence that he found with Brinks is the most fulfilling job and the goal of Freedom Fidos.

Training the dogs can take up to two years and costs the nonprofit about $4,000 per dog. Burgess prefers to find dogs at Grand Strand area shelters, but in some instances will work with a dog a veteran already owns. The veterans must meet criteria set by the Freedom Fidos’ board of directors.

Burgess said no veteran or child under age 16 will be charged, but must be willing to invest the time the intensive training requires to become a service dog handler.

For more information or to make a donation visit

by Amanda Blomquist, executive membership coordinator, Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce

November 10, 2014 at 8:35 am Leave a comment

Member Spotlight: Del Sol

Want to see a picture of Iron Man change color as soon as it is exposed to the sun?

Then come on down to Del Sol, which specializes in color-changing apparel and merchandise.

There are two locations in the Myrtle Beach area to serve you; one in Barefoot Landing and one at Broadway at the Beach.Del Sol

But the obvious question is, just what is it that is used in these shirts, sunglasses and nail polish to make them change color when exposed to UV rays?

It’s called spectrachrome, and it is a color-changing crystal that was first discovered by NASA 40 years ago. This material does not wash out, so the clothing and accessories you buy will have a long shelf life.

And what neat items they have to offer. There is plenty of Disney and Marvel-themed merchandise to choose from.

Even better, there are UV devices there in the store that you can use to see how these crystals make magic happen right before your eyes.

And with the holidays just around the corner, you’re sure to find some unique gifts for those on your list.

So, to paraphrase an old expression, if you’re looking for a horse of a different color, make your way down to Del Sol.

by Brad Dickerson, media communications manager, Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce/Convention and Visitors Bureau

November 3, 2014 at 6:06 pm Leave a comment

Member Spotlight: Ground Zero

When one walks through the doors of Ground Zero, they’re immediately taken aback by how modern and beautiful the surroundings are.

Not long ago, this building on Chester Street in Myrtle Beach – right across from the parking garage and less than a block from Ocean Boulevard – used to house a movie theater. Then, in 2011, the folks with Ground Zero decided to renovate it and make it a place for teenagers to come and enjoy positive experiences within a safe environment.ground zero

The city of Myrtle Beach owns the lease, and only charged Ground Zero $1 a year. They are paid up through the next $20.

And on Oct. 14, Ground Zero finally got to debut what they have been working on the last three years. The ribbon was cut, and their new facility was up and running.

So, back to that entrance. It is beautiful, and it is a coffee shop. Here, the friendly baristas are making delicious drinks like their own version of a pumpkin spice latte, chai tea and any number of smoothies. There is plenty of seating available, and free Wi-Fi is offered. Ground Zero’s staff envisions this space as a place for students to come and work on the studies.

But it doesn’t stop there. Local businessmen and women can come, order a cup of coffee and discuss plans for that big presentation. Or, pastors and youth ministers can work on their sermons.

Ultimately, Ground Zero is a faith-based organization, although not one where a person would be bombarded with scripture.

Their website states the goal is to, “impact and influence teenagers’ lives during culturally relevant, entertaining, and worshipful events in order to establish authentic relationships with one another, with Christian adults and mentors, and ultimately, with God through Jesus Christ.”

In the theater area, there are three different gaming areas for PlayStation, Xbox and the like. There are no first-person shooter games, like “Call of Duty.”

And, in addition to more modern games, one can wax nostalgic after getting a look at the old-school tabletop video game systems that have titles like “Galaga,” “Donkey Kong Jr.” and other classics from the 80s.

There are also a number of events Ground Zero will host throughout the fall and spring seasons for teens. National bands, illusionists, flatland skateboarders and comedians will provide students with top-notch entertainment that is sure to please.

Everything about Ground Zero, from the coffee shop, video games and events, is geared toward that mission statement – give teens a safe and fun environment to form bonds with their peers and with God.

Judging by the activity that has been happening the last few days there at Chester Street, it’s evident that Ground Zero is off and running.

by Brad Dickerson, media communications manager, Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce/Convention and Visitors Bureau

October 27, 2014 at 7:00 am Leave a comment

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