MYRTLE BEACH — A final vote that would allow the county to borrow $8 million for a project that could bring 1,020 jobs to the area has been delayed until later this month.
Horry County Council, which has given two initial approvals to $8 million in general obligation bonds for what business recruiters call Project Blue, was expected to take a final vote Tuesday, but decided to postpone it. The company, known to be a call center, although the corporation has not been identified, asked that it be removed from Tuesday’s agenda.
Council is considering a bevy of factors, one of which is the company’s pending contract with a Fortune 100 client that has yet to be signed, according to council chairman Tom Rice.
Candace Howell, Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp.’s director of marketing and membership, said the company wants to have the contract signed before the council’s next vote.
“We want the 1,000 jobs, but we want to make sure we do everything we can to protect the taxpayer,” Rice said.
Howell said it is important to get final approval from the County Council to finalize the deal, and that the final vote on the bonds and a closed meeting to brief the council on the project has been moved to the council’s Sept.18 meeting.
Officials still won’t reveal the name of Project Blue, which would be in the Carolina Forest area, have a $30 million annual payroll and a $75 million annual economic impact on the area, EDC officials have said. Average wages at the call center would be $14.36 an hour.
The company wanted to begin construction on a building around Sept.1, but the council had moved back the date for its final vote from Aug.21 to Tuesday, pushing back the project. Brad Lofton, EDC’s president and chief executive officer, has said Project Blue could begin construction on a building in late September.
The county added a condition to the proposal presented to the council that would terminate the agreement if the project doesn’t go forward as planned.
If certain requirements are not met – except for the construction of a building for Project Blue – by Dec.31, then the county would not take on an $8 million debt and would get out of buying the building if the company leaves after five years.
Under the proposal, if the company doesn’t stay longer than five years and EDC cannot find another tenant for the building, the county would purchase the 60,000-square-foot building from the developer along with 600 parking spaces and 10 acres at the beginning of year six for $7 million.
If the county has to buy the building back, Santee Cooper – South Carolina’s state-owned electric and water utility – guarantees to loan the county $6 million for 10 years, if the facilities are used for economic development purposes, with the remaining $1 million coming from EDC’s product development fund.
If that happened, the county could use the building for a critical services complex, which would cost another $1 million to upgrade.
Todd Garvin contributed to this report.
Contact JANELLE FROST at 443-2404.