MYRTLE BEACH — Relief might be on the way for some jobseekers along the Grand Strand, with the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp. working to bring 1,164 jobs to Horry County, some of which would be in manufacturing.
Business recruiters aren’t giving many details about the potential jobs, still using names such as “Project AF” and “Project BL” when talking about the companies.
Project AF and Project BL would bring 79 and 65 new manufacturing jobs, respectively, to the Myrtle Beach area, said Brad Lofton, EDC’s president and chief executive officer.
Lofton declined Wednesday to name the companies. The EDC plans to announce Project BL jobs sometime in August.
Project AF, which has gotten initial approval from the Horry County Council, requires two more votes from the council, and would be an expansion of an existing industry, Lofton said.
Statewide, the manufacturing sector has been a bright spot during the past year for job creation. Manufacturing added 7,000 jobs from May 2011 to May 2012, one of the sectors with the largest job growth, though it lost 200 jobs from April to May, according to the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce.
Rob Salvino, a research economist at Coastal Carolina University, said 144 new manufacturing jobs would be a significant and welcomed addition to Myrtle Beach and Horry County, with there being a small manufacturing sector in the area.
Most of the new jobs would come from Project Blue, which would bring 1,020 jobs to the area. Lofton said Wednesday that he couldn’t reveal the name and nature of the company’s business because of confidentiality agreements with the company until the deal is finalized, but confirmed it would be located in the Carolina Forest area, making a $75 million annual economic impact on the area.
Average wages would be $15 to $17 an hour for Project BL jobs, $14.36 an hour for Project Blue jobs, and $12 to $13 per hour for Project AF jobs, Lofton said.
The EDC announced in May that Frontier Communications is opening a call center in the Myrtle Beach area, creating 110 jobs. Frontier will renovate its building on Lumber Street in Myrtle Beach to house the call center. In the past year, the EDC has had only one other jobs announcement: AvCraft, an aviation maintenance and repair company in Myrtle Beach, planned to add 150 jobs and improve its building on the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base.
A study found that the Grand Strand has the population, worker base and capability to be home to more call center, customer service and back office jobs. The Myrtle Beach area has a significant labor pool and a solid pipeline of employees for a call center, with about 475,000 people living within a 45-mile radius, according to the study by CBRE Consulting for the EDC. The area’s high unemployment rate, number of underemployed workers, limited competition and good colleges and universities also mean a company coming in should be able to fill jobs, according to the study.
In May, Horry County’s jobless rate was 9.9 percent, up 0.4 percentage points from 9.5 percent in April, according to the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce.
With 260 jobs from Frontier and AvCraft already announced, the EDC is about half-way toward is goal of luring 500 jobs to Horry County by the fall. Lofton, who started in April 2011 as the EDC’s president and chief executive officer, pledged to bring that number of jobs to the area during his first 18 months on the job.
In addition to the three projects, the EDC is pursuing 12 other prospective companies, Lofton said Wednesday.
Contact JANELLE FROST at 443-2404.