New employer in a hiring mode for managers, 600-plus workers

sjones@thesunnews.comDecember 16, 2013 

StarTek Call Center Land

CHARLES SLATE — cslate@thesunnews.com Buy Photo

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    Looking for work?

    Go to www.startek.com/us-careers and click on the bar at the bottom of the page that says “Apply in Myrtle Beach, S.C.”

If you are ready for a job, StarTek may be ready to hire more than 600 of you.

The company which announced Monday that it will open a new call center in Carolina Forest said the quality and quantity of the area’s workforce was at the top of a list of reasons it decided to invest $10 million here.

It’s not unlike what any employer may say about a new location, but StarTek had done its homework and could be confident in what it said.

StarTek representatives had talked with officials at Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Frontier Communications, both of which operate call centers along the Grand Strand.

In addition, said Brad Lofton, CEO of the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp., StarTek ran a “blind” help wanted ad in The Sun News about six months ago and got more response than it did from a similar ad that ran in Las Vegas.

First to be hired, said Rosemary Hanratty, StarTek’s director of marketing, will be 10 management employees to be the team that builds the company’s local workforce. The full list, which includes site director, training manager and IT technician, can be found at www.startek.com/us-careers.

The company will train initial workers, who it calls “Brand Warriors,” and begin operations in temporary space at Horry Georgetown Technical College, a factor Lofton said was critical in the company’s opening a call center in Myrtle Beach. He said that call centers want move-in ready space when they open a new location.

The $8 million, 50,000-square-foot building it will occupy in Carolina Forest’s Town Centre at International Boulevard and SC 31 won’t be ready for about nine months. The building is being constructed by TCP Capital, LLC, which is developing the Town Centre, and will be leased to StarTek.

The company also will put $2 million into the equipment in the building, Lofton said. The new office should be ready in the fall.

StarTek will get space free at HGTC while it trains employees, said college president Neyle Wilson. Once it switches modes to operations, it will pay the college rent and cover the cost of utilities.

The company is expected to have an annual economic impact of more than $45 million in the area.

While Lofton said the company’s choice was between Myrtle Beach and Las Vegas, Hanratty said that StarTek doesn’t choose its sites that way.

“We keep all the sites that are potential in play,” she said. “We try to match sites with the clients we have in the area.”

She said the company does not name its clients.

The 665 StarTek jobs brings the number of announced jobs in Horry County to 967 this year, 1,425 since the rejuvenated EDC started its mission in January 2012.

U.S. Rep. Tom Rice, R-Myrtle Beach, was the driving force behind the rejuvenation and said Monday afternoon he was confident the EDC would be successful, but maybe not this much this soon.

“I do think it has happened a little more quickly than I had expected,” he said.

Rice said the announcement by StarTek emphasizes the things that bring companies to the Grand Strand.

“It’s got so much going for it that potential employers want to be here,” he said.

The number of jobs is even more impressive, he said, because the current EDC started from a dead stop after former job-hunting organizations had folded.

Rice said that the EDC’s string of successes in the past two years have given it a statewide reputation that gives the state Department of Commerce to know that leads it sends to Horry County will treated professionally.

Chad Carlson, president and CEO of StarTek, emphasized what Rice said about the area and the officials who helped recruit the company.

“The workforce, the welcoming business climate and the location matched our requirements,” said Chad Carlson, president and CEO of StarTek. “The local and state authorities have been great to work with and we look forward to a great partnership with the Palmetto State.”

Rice said he’d like to take the success of the Myrtle Beach EDC and duplicate it throughout the 7th District, which he represents.

He acknowledged that the area needs infrastructure, such as Interstate 73, and pledged to keep working to make it happen.

StarTek has 11,200 employees in eight other locations in the United States, as well as offices in Latin America, Canada and the Philippines.

Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.

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