Horry County Council members are considering incentives offers for two companies that want to establish operations here.

Council members were briefed on the two projects Tuesday night in a closed session, said Brad Lofton, president of the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC).

Lofton didn’t offer specifics about the companies — he said other communities are competing for their business — but he did say the two firms have a strong interest in Horry.

So strong, in fact, that the EDC’s attorney is already drawing up incentives paperwork for the council to review, possibly as early as Sept. 17.

“Both projects we briefed council on last night have given us at least a non-binding commitment to move forward,” Lofton said. “They’re exciting projects. They’re both well-known companies. … We’ve got to get them over the finish line.”

In addition to those companies, the EDC is waiting on a response from Stag Arms, a Connecticut gun maker that is considering Horry for a 108-job manufacturing facility.

Lofton said Stag officials have told him they plan to make a decision this month.

“It has come down to us and Houston, Texas,” he said. “[Stag’s CEO] has made the comment that we are very, very competitive with Texas.”

Should Stag set up shop here, it would be the second Connecticut gun company to pick Horry for a manufacturing site this year.

In June, gun maker PTR Industries announced a move from Connecticut to the Cool Springs Business Park near Aynor.

The park’s shell building must be updated to accommodate PTR’s operations and construction on the company’s new home is expected to be finished in December, EDC officials have said.

PTR should start making guns there in January.

Some gun company officials have said new firearms restrictions in their home states prompted them to consider moving.

That was certainly the case with PTR in Connecticut.

But what makes Horry so popular?

When asked why gun makers have shown so much interest in the county, Lofton said geography is a major factor. They want to be near the coast.

“All these [companies] seem to be owned by young guys,” he said. “You have all these 300 counties calling, begging them to locate or to come visit. … They don’t really resonate with these guys. But when Myrtle Beach calls — they’ve visited, they’ve vacationed here, they’ve been here and they love it here.”

These companies have also been welcomed, not only because South Carolina is a pro-Second Amendment state, but also because the area is hungry for jobs that aren’t tied to tourism.

Ted Gragg, the owner of the Myrtle Beach Indoor Shooting Range, said when he returned from military service in 1972, he started working in his family’s electrical wholesale business.

The company served industry from Elizabethtown, N.C., to Charleston.

“The area was replete with lumber mills and textile mills,” he said. “They were strong. Now that’s all gone and we need something more than just tourism. That’s why I’m so excited about this. Because I see doors opening for us to recover and to have this industry here.”

Charles D. Perry 488-7258

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