Officials expect Myrtle Beach call center announcement next week

sjones@thesunnews.comDecember 12, 2013 

— Horry County economic development officials expect to announce next week that a company will open a new call center in Myrtle Beach and hire 660 employees.

“That’s going to be a huge Christmas present for the community,” said Brad Lofton, CEO of the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp. “It’s a heck of a way to end the year.”

Lofton, who declined to name the company, said the company likely will begin operations in space at Horry Georgetown Technical College and move to a building that will be constructed for it at International Drive and S.C. 31.

Lofton said the company plans to invest $8 million in the building and another $2 million in equipment for it.

He said that the state and county governments have already approved incentives for the company and that the county has passed a resolution stating its intention to approve a fee in lieu of taxes as well.

The county approved a wage variance for the company to offer jobs below the county average of $14.31 per hour. The variance allows an average wage at the center of $11.05 an hour, but Lofton said the company expects bonuses, overtime and commission to boost the average above $12 per hour.

In addition, said HGTC President Neyle Wilson, “What they do offer is a pretty good benefits package.” Wilson also didn’t name the company.

Wilson, who is treasurer of the EDC’s board, said that the $14.31 average wage countywide is more than what most hourly workers in Horry County are paid and includes people who are making very good money. He said that the $11.05 the company will pay likely is close to a countywide median wage, where half of workers make more and half make less.

Wilson said training and initial operations will take place at a building on the college’s Grand Strand Campus that was originally intended for recreation. He said that ReadySC will pay some of the renovation needed to outfit the building for call center training and operations as well as the operational costs of the building while it is being used as training.

Once the use transitions to company operations, Wilson said it will then pay the college rent and cover the cost of all utilities.

Wilson said the college hopes to be able to use the space as future training space when the company has moved to its new location.

All that’s left before the deal is finalized is for the company to sign off on the construction contract. He said the builder has signed the contract.

Lofton said the contract calls for nine months to build the facility.

The facility will have a $49 million annual impact on the local economy, he said.

Wilson said economic development officials are confident that the deal will be done.

“It’s not over ‘til the fat lady sings,’” he said, “but from what we understand, the developer is very happy with the deal and we’re just waiting for the company to sign off on it.”

Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.

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