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Economy: Building boom follows predictions for recovery

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Dr. Bruce Yandle, dean emeritus of Clemson University’s College of Business and Behavioral Science, looked prophetic this week after a bank and a surgery center broke ground on new facilities on the Waccamaw Neck.

Yandle said an increase in construction would be the first signal that the local economy is on the rise during a presentation to the Waccamaw Regional Council of Governments economic outlook forum in Litchfield in March.

South Atlantic Bank officials expect to finish a 4,000 square foot building on Highway 17 north of the Hammock Shops by late fall. Officials from South Atlantic and builder Coastal Structures participated in a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday morning on site bordered by Lachicotte Drive. The builder has moved 2,200 cubic yards of dirt to the site after clearing large pine trees last month. The new building will have a similar Lowcountry look and feel to the bank’s offices in Myrtle Beach and Murrells Inlet.

Carolina Orthopaedic Specialists and Rendina Companies broke ground on the 22,000-square foot Coastal Surgery Center at Bypass 17 and Carson Road Tuesday afternoon. The $5.5 million facility is being designed to provide an alternative to hospital out-patient procedures. Its physicians, including Dr. Michael Bohan, will do surgery as well as diagnostic and preventive procedures in the state-of-the-art facility, scheduled to be completed by spring of 2015.

Carolina Orthopaedic Specialists’ care includes specialization in joint preservation and replacement, sports medicine and pain management in addition to general orthopaedics. Redina specializes in health care real estate development.

Dr. Rob Salvino, economist from Coastal Carolina University, said Georgetown and Horry counties benefit from a growing population of retirees. New banks and orthopaedic surgery centers are indicators of that growth.

Harby Moses of Coastal Structures said his firm has been busy after surviving a “tough” 2009. A contract for a medical office building near Waccamaw Community Hospital kept his company afloat, Moses said, until construction activity picked up. His firm just finished the $1.2 Murrells Inlet Community Center and is working on the $2 million Waccamaw branch library, an $800,000 addition at SafeRack in the county business park near Andrews, a Department of Social Services building in Kingstree, the Hollywood Wax Museum in Myrtle Beach and renovations at Georgetown Memorial Hospital.

Building for the first quarter on the Waccamaw Neck is up $5.7 million over last year: $26.5 million to $20.9, according to the Georgetown County Building Department. That includes a $1 million renovation of a former Piggly Wiggly grocery store for Bi-Lo at Litchfield Market Village and a $450,000 building for James W. Smith Real Estate office in Litchfield. The office replaces the one that was destroyed by fire last spring.

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