Article reveals potentially damaging Project Blue details

New information has come to light about Project Blue, the previously unnamed company that may bring more than a thousand jobs to Horry County. Economic development officials have said Project Blue would have an annual payroll of about $30 million a year.

A local news website revealed what it says is the name of the company, along with some potentially disturbing information about one of its executives.

Waccamaw Publishing, which prints the Myrtle Beach Herald and other local newspapers, says in the article that Project Blue is an Atlanta-based company called Covation.

The article says Covation's chief operating officer, David Rocker, served a year in federal prison for income tax evasion. A search of the prison database shows Rocker was released in January, 2001.

In its marketing materials, Covation describes itself as a "top-of-the-line call center solution."

Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development officials wouldn't confirm that Covation is Project Blue, but they say they are investigating new information about Project Blue that has recently been uncovered.

"We're working closely with the CEO of the company to find out what information we can, but in the meantime, Project Blue continues as it was," said MBREDC spokesperson Candace Howell.

Howell wouldn't speculate on whether the new information being investigated could jeopardize an incentive package, including $8 million in bonds, that Horry County council has passed in its first two readings. A third and final vote on the county incentives package is scheduled for next Tuesday, Sept. 4.

County Councilman Gary Loftus, who has voted for the incentive package, said despite what he read in the article, his support for Project Blue has not changed.

"I've heard a lot of stuff but I have not confirmed anything. Based on what I know to be true, I'm still behind it 100 percent," Loftus said.

But Councilman Carl Schwartzkopf, who also supported the incentives, said he now has reservations.

He said the county needs to evaluate who it's doing business with, and he takes his cue from former President Ronald Reagan, who said, "Trust, but verify."

"And I think in this situation there was a lot of trust, and there was some verification, but there probably wasn't enough," Schwartzkopf said.

NewsChannel 15's calls to Covation's headquarters in Atlanta were not returned.