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Tourism: Two finalists for county's marketing director

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

The field of applicants hoping to be the new tourism marketing director for Georgetown County has been narrowed to two finalists.

Tee Miller of Georgetown, an economic development and business strategy consultant, and Meredith Hart of Myrtle Beach, a community liaison with WBTW News, were the top picks from four candidates interviewed last month, said Annette Medlin, president of the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce. Medlin conducted the interviews after reducing more than 100 applicants to six potential hires.

She said last week she wouldn’t release the finalists’ names because the chamber didn’t need to comply with the state Freedom of Information Act.

But the position is being paid for by the county, and Medlin took a closer look at the law, which requires the release of information about “no fewer than the three final applicants” for public jobs.

Miller and Hart were announced as finalists on Tuesday.

“I had lengthy interviews with them last week [and] am now prepared to check references,” Medlin said in an e-mail.

Members of the Tourism Management Commission have copies of each finalist’s résumé for review. Medlin expects to be ready to make an offer early next week, after returning from a trip to Mexico, she said.

The commission wants to have someone at work in the new role by Dec. 1. The position was created and funded under a new arrangement between the chamber and the county, which is expected to save between $50,000 and $95,000 a year by eliminating the need to outsource tourism marketing services.

In looking for candidates, Medlin focused specifically on qualifications including grant writing, tourism and marketing, she said.

Miller, a South Carolina native who has lived in Georgetown for six years, said he has worked in “diverse and dynamic environments that have all relied” on his strategic marketing skills. He started out working in an ad agency and moved into other marketing positions for private companies before moving into the public sector.

He was a congressional liaison for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, representing the secretary and administration on agricultural and rural issues from 2002 to 2003, then became deputy director for the Office of Business liaison at the Department of Commerce until July 2005. He represented the Secretary of Commerce to the business community and associations including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Federation of Independent Businesses and U.S. Travel Association.

Miller left Washington, D.C., for Columbia, where he was the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s South Carolina director for Rural Development and led a staff of more than 130 employees and 16 offices, delivering more than $1.2 billion in financial assistance.

He left that position in 2009 to do consulting work and has been working with a community group to obtain scenic byway designation for Georgetown County from the General Assembly.

Miller has a master’s degree in communications from the University of Tennessee and an MBA from the University of South Carolina.

He also serves on the steering committee for the Winyah Bay Heritage Festival.

“I have recently had job opportunities that would have required me to move away from Georgetown, but I have decided that Georgetown is where I want to raise my family,” Miller said in a letter to Medlin.

Travel to “many cities that have similar attributes to Georgetown as a tourism destination” has given him “a real appreciation for what makes our community special and attractive to visitors,” he added.

Hart, who has an MBA in marketing from Walden University in Minneapolis and a certificate of professional photography from Horry-Georgetown Technical College, has worked for WBTW since March 201.

In her current position, she has developed, planned and implemented major station events and meetings, worked with nonprofits and community groups, and assisted in garnering publicity for the station.

Hart started her career in 2003 as marketing coordinator for Ocean Ridge Plantation in Sunset Beach, N.C. After a year, she became assistant director of marketing for the plantation and then moved back to Myrtle Beach, where she had interned while attending the University of South Carolina.

Hart was employed briefly as account assistant and media buyer for LHWH Advertising and Public Relations in Myrtle Beach, then went to work as public relations and media manager for DSL Services.

Most recently she was media and public relations director for Collins + Company Advertising and Public Relations of Myrtle Beach.

Hart’s community involvement includes serving on the board of the local affiliate of the American Advertising Federation and Freedom Readers, a group dedicated to improve reading skills in poor communities.

Hart describes herself as “a goal-oriented business communicator and marketer” seeking a job that will allow her to “empower others with the skills to successfully affect the corporate and community world,” and “promote the enhancement of my knowledge, creativity, business capabilities and professional set of skills.”

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