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April 2, 2021

Congratulations to the 2020 and 2021 Award Winners!

On April 1, 2021, Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce presented 28 awards that recognize the most visionary and community-driven businesses and individuals during its 82nd annual membership meeting. 


2020 LGS Ann DeBock Award
Mary Jo Rogers

Mary Jo Rogers, executive vice president/chief lending officer of South Atlantic Bank, is a graduate of LGS Class XX. Rogers has volunteered and served on boards focused on children, the arts and homeless for several decades, including Kids Voting of Horry County, Grand Strand Club, BBB of Horry County, American Heart Association, Franklin G. Burroughs Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum of Myrtle Beach, and the Cancer Society Relay for Life, Autism Run. Rogers is most well-known for her work with New Directions, a nonprofit organization that helps people in crisis. 

2021 LGS Ann DeBock Award
Ozell J. Newman

Ozell Newman is a manager, area distribution engineering for Santee Cooper and a graduate of LGS Class XXIV. He is happily married to the former Kamishun Grate, and they have been blessed with three children. Newman has volunteered with many nonprofits in the community, including the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts of America Troop 828, Horry County March of Dimes, and the Academy for the Arts, Science & Technology. Newman also has helped shape the lives of young males through the Mu Epsilon Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., which is a public service organization that meets the needs of the community by teaching etiquette, teamwork and life skills.

Ambassador of the Year
Olivia Elswick
Visibility & Conversions

Olivia Elswick was born and raised in Myrtle Beach and graduated from Clemson University. She is currently director of social media marketing and content manager for Visibility and Conversions. Elswick is a graduate of Leadership Grand Strand Class 37, volunteers for the American Heart Association, St. Andrew’s and Theater of Republic. She is currently on the executive board and social committee for the Grand Strand Clemson Club.

Young Professional of the Year
Samantha Huff
21 Main Events at North Beach

Samantha Huff is originally from Waltham, Massachusetts, and moved to Myrtle Beach five years ago. She is currently sales and marketing manager with 21 Main Events at North Beach. Huff previously served on the GSYP steering committee and is now a GSYP ambassador. Huff has been involved with the local American Heart Association, currently serves on the Long Bay Symphony community outreach board, is vice president of fundraising for Junior League of the Grand Strand and soon to be a graduate of Leadership Grand Strand Class 41.

2020 Chamber Ambassador of the Year
Larry Fudge
WTS-Waccamaw Telecommunication Systems

Larry Fudge has been a part of the ambassador program for nearly seven years and goes the distance to ensure our stakeholders are aware of the many chamber benefits. He attends numerous networking events, ambassador meetings, ribbon-cutting ceremonies, and new investor orientations.

2021 Chamber Ambassador of the Year and
2020 Chamber Volunteer of the Year
Sponsored by Philanthropist.com
Amie Hayes
Restoration 1

Amie Hayes goes above and beyond to make sure our investors are aware of the many benefits the chamber provides. Even during a pandemic, Hayes strived to ensure our investors were in the know of the many services the chamber offers. Hayes even helped deliver face masks and hand sanitizer to businesses for their employees and customers.

2021 Chamber Volunteer of the Year
Sponsored by Philanthropist.com
Gina Trimarco
Sales Gravy

In addition to serving as a very involved member of the chamber’s Business Development Committee, Gina Trimarco stepped up to facilitate a weekly Small Business Brainstorming and Collaboration Meeting during the early days of the COVID-19. This weekly video conference was a big help for small businesses to brainstorm and collaborate about ideas for surviving during and thriving after the pandemic.

2020 Entrepreneur of the Year
Layla Hartmann
Grace Revealed

Layla Hartmann, director of Grace Revealed, has built a business that provides a dynamic experience while being a vehicle for lasting change. This business started from the owner’s personal journey from surviving to thriving. A trauma survivor, this individual has created a safe place for you to unravel and be restored.

2021 Entrepreneur of the Year
Darren deMaille
Best Golf Lessons Myrtle Beach

While the 2020 pandemic forced Darren deMaille to take a drastic change in their business model, this individual was among the first golf instructors to implement COVID-19 safety and sanitation protocols to resume in-person lessons. For players who weren’t comfortable with in-person lessons, deMaille developed a method for students to send a smartphone video of their swing, followed by online analysis of their video, along with assigning online drills.

2020 Champion of Diversity
Sponsored by TD Bank

When you think of diversity, you often think of race or gender, however, hiring individuals with autism and/or intellectual disabilities also is an important part of being an equal opportunity employer. SOS Care partners with local businesses to help them hire diverse candidates, such as our friends with autism. Staff helps these individuals write resumes, practice interview skills and then goes to work with them to help with on-the-job training.

2021 Champion of Diversity
Sponsored by TD Bank
Mary “Cookie” Goings
Director of Neighborhood Services, City of Myrtle Beach, and founder of Beach Chats

Mary “Cookie” Goings’ outstanding leadership and tireless efforts in addressing and raising awareness about issues of diversity, inclusion and equity in our community is without a doubt admired and appreciated by many. In 2020, in response to the death of George Floyd and the civil unrest and protests, Goings immediately set out to find a way to bring our community together to make it better for the future. One of those approaches was to face the racial tension head-on with a series of community events that focused on having hard, honest dialogue about race, unity, diversity and healing.

2020 Hospitality Employee of the Year
Rosalind Stacy
Thomas Beach Vacations

Rosalind Stacy is an outstanding role model to every employee in the organization. Stacy comes to work with a positive attitude, a contagious laugh and a desire to lead by example. She instills that sense of excellence in their team.

2021 Hospitality Employee of the Year
James Canty
Caribbean Resort and Villas

James Canty is a true team player with the kindest heart. You will see Canty taking a new associate under their wing for training, assisting a guest with their luggage, and picking up trash as this person walks around the property. Canty believes that there is no room for “that is not my job” mentality in a team.

2020 Business Innovation

KingOne Properties believes in serving their clients one action at a time, which is why they are highly selective about the properties they represent. By offering only the finest luxury properties, they create a more concentrated marketing effort to maximize interest and expedite the selling cycle.

2021 Business Innovation & Resilience

Of course, the pandemic threatened to bring new business opportunities to a screeching halt, particularly when it came to business development and pitching. The Brandon Agency chose to explore what they could do rather than fixate on these new limitations. As calling on prospects and getting face-to-face meetings was difficult, the company bolstered its inbound marketing efforts and made sure they were easily discoverable by those looking for help. These additional efforts paid great dividends and, as a result, The Brandon Agency added the most number of new clients in its history this past year.

2020 Community Service
Sponsored by Maguire Law Firm

Whether it is through company-sponsored events, like Celebrate the Season and Nature Scope, or activities on the weekend with Relay for Life or the American Heart Association, employees at Santee Cooper take pride in being a part of their community.

2021 Community Service
Sponsored by Maguire Law Firm

The Children’s Recovery Center has grown from a one-room house serving  41 children to two buildings serving nearly 400 children. Medical director, Dr. Carol Rahter, volunteers her time to testify in court on behalf of their clients and provides free training on child abuse and neglect to law enforcement, DSS, health care providers and other community members.

2020 Nonprofit of the Year
Sponsored by The Jackson Companies

Ground Zero is a place where every teenager can go, belong and grow. Through life-changing experiences and nurturing relationships, Ground Zero make a positive impact in the lives of today’s teenagers, cultivating their faith and transforming their futures.

2021 Nonprofit of the Year
Sponsored by The Jackson Companies

Habitat for Humanity of Horry County seeks to put God’s love into action, bringing people together to build homes, communities and hope. Throughout a year that has been unlike any other, HFHHC has exemplified the words of its mission and further expanded its vision. 


2020 Small Business of the Year
Sponsored by A&I Fire and Water Restoration

Magnolia’s at 26th was farm-to-table long before it was a trend. It’s not just the amazing food, it’s also every member of the staff who contributes to the true Southern hospitality of Magnolia’s.

2021 Small Business of the Year
Sponsored by A&I Fire and Water Restoration

With COVID-19 and the safety felt in the outdoors, Myrtle Beach State Park welcomed the community to a safe and educational environment, both at the park and in their many online educational videos.

Brad Dean Chairman’s of Excellence Award
Sponsored by Burr & Forman
Dr. David DeCenzo

David DeCenzo served as the second president of Coastal Carolina University for more than 13 years from 2007 to 2020; a presidency centered on elements that aptly characterize his life and leadership – tradition, integrity and excellence. During his tenure, DeCenzo oversaw the expansion of CCU’s academic program from 39 to 95 undergraduate majors, as well as the growth of the school’s graduate and doctoral programs. He also oversaw construction projects on the campus, including the HTC Student Recreation and Convocation Center and the expansion of Brooks Stadium, as well as other renovations to athletic facilities.

2020 Citizen of the Year
Sponsored by WPDE ABC 15
Herbert Riley Jr.
(May 23, 1951-July 10, 2019)

Herbert Riley Jr., a former chair of the Horry County Planning Commission, was the CEO of the Carver Street Economic Renaissance Corp., which saved and renovated Charlie’s Place, a historical landmark that is now a museum and community center, and reinvigorated the Booker T. Washington neighborhood. Riley is remembered as a prominent Myrtle Beach civic and community leader, a lover of music and an influential advocate in preserving the area’s history. Riley helped start the Myrtle Beach Jazz Festival and was a founding member of the Carolina African American History Foundation. He was a member of the Horry County Affordable and Workforce Housing Commission. 

2020 Citizen of the Year
Sponsored by WPDE ABC 15
Eddie Dyer

Eddie Dyer is the former executive vice president and chief operating officer at Coastal Carolina University. He retired in 2015 after serving as a member of the political science faculty since 1976.  After nearly four decades at Coastal Carolina University, Dyer saw the campus grow from four buildings to more than 100. During tenure, he educated and mentored countless students as everything from administrator, professor, advisor, athletic director and even coach. A member of the Horry County Planning Commission and the board of directors for United Way, Dyer also was appointed to chair the county’s Ride III Committee. He has served on the boards of a number of community groups for better local government, youth sports, medical care for the indigent and other charitable initiatives.

2021 Citizen of the Year
Sponsored by WPDE ABC 15
Bennie J. Swans Jr.
(Nov. 26, 1949-Sept. 19, 2020)

Bennie Swans Jr. was a longtime community and civil rights activist. Swans is best known as the driving force behind the formation of Freedom Week - the annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebrations in Myrtle Beach. He is former chair of the Horry County Democratic Party. Swans was a decorated United States Army veteran who fought during the Vietnam War. Earlier this year, the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce Educational Foundation, in conjunction with the chamber’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council, announced an annual scholarship in the name of Bennie Swans to Leadership Grand Strand to provide tuition for one person from an underrepresented or marginalized group. 

2020 Ashby Ward Pioneer of the Year
Sponsored by Carolina Cool
Myra Starnes

Myra Starnes is a Myrtle Beach business owner who is described by folks she knows as smart, entrepreneur, successful, intense. She not only has produced the Hotel, Motel & Restaurant Supply Show of the Southeast for 40 years, but Starnes puts on trade shows and other events throughout the Southeast and owns Leisure Time Unlimited, a tour company in Myrtle Beach. Many also know Starnes as the producer of the festive Christmas Dickens Show at the convention center which brings in thousands of visitors to Myrtle Beach each fall.

2021 Ashby Ward Pioneer of the Year
Sponsored by Carolina Cool
John Rhodes
(April 3, 1943-Jan. 17, 2021)

Former Mayor John Rhodes had a strong working relationship with the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber and Convention and Visitors Bureau and over his 12 years as mayor, contributions to the city in partnership with the chamber are numerous.
•  Rhodes was the father of sports tourism and the Tourism Development Fee. Working with tourism leaders in Myrtle Beach and legislators in Columbia, he helped pass this landmark tourism legislation in Myrtle Beach to invest in tourism and help keep taxes low for Myrtle Beach residents.
•  He was the pioneer behind Savannah’s Playground in The Market Common.
•  Since 1981, Rhodes served as the director of the Beach Ball Classic, which brought teams to Myrtle Beach during the slower winter months. He also was a pioneer in girls basketball, growing a girls tournament with former UNC Women's Basketball Coach Sylvia Hatchell.
•  He was the driving force in getting sports tourism facilities built in Myrtle Beach.
•  Rhodes’ tenure included the development of The Market Common, Myrtle Beach Boardwalk and Promenade.


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