Aiken inspires beach town

The North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce, CVB spent three days in Aiken in September for its Annual Leadership Planning Retreat to assist its leadership in seeing what proactive collaboration can accomplish for a city. This is similar to the Aiken Chamber trips for community leaders to Hartsville, Greenville, Hilton Head, Winston Salem and Raleigh over the past two years. 

The 28-member group consisted of board members, elected officials and various community leaders interested in learning how their Aiken counterparts have successfully worked together to plan and prepare for Aiken’s future. 

North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce, CVB, President/CEO said, “Developing innovative ideas and assisting one another in accomplishing tasks for the improvement of the community is the norm in Aiken rather than the exception. By working together to face challenges more is accomplished for the betterment of all. This is one of the lessons we came to see in action and were not disappointed.” 

A panel consisting of Chamber Chair Charlie Hartz, Dunkin’ Donuts, Chamber VP Economic Vitality, Mandy Collins, Aiken Mayor Rick Osbon, and Aiken City Manager John Klimm discussed the challenges and opportunities Aiken has met along the way.

Planning retreat participants saw firsthand how the City of Aiken has prepared a master plan through a shared vision and is successfully implementing their plan with private sector and public sector partnerships.

“A visit to the Alley during a Thursday night Amp the Alley event was inspiring for our team,” Jordan said. “Having visited Aiken last December and then returning this fall, I was able to really see the differences being made here. Progress often feels slow to citizens who live in a community, but in under a year, the progress Aiken has made in activating its downtown is remarkable. The Aiken community is thriving.” 

Another highlight of the visit was time spent in discussion with some of Aiken’s young professionals. Matt Burghardt, Jenny Burghardt, Josh Cline, Martha Ruthven, K.T. Ruthven and Melissa Viola discussed the importance of activating and listening to the next generation of leaders when making plans for a community. 

According to Jordan, “Actions speak louder than words and the North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce, CVB and city leadership recognizes the partnership that is in Aiken and are still talking about it back home today. Thank you for the inspiration.”

North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Marc Jordan, far left, is joined by Aiken Chamber Board Chair Charlie Hartz, Aiken Mayor Rick Osbon, Aiken Chamber VP Economic Vitality Mandy Collins, Aiken City Manager John Klimm, and North Myrtle Beach Chamber Board Chair Scott Ellis.


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