An existing Myrtle Beach industry will be tripling the size of its operations in Horry County.
Avcraft Technical Services plans to add 150 jobs over the next five years, most of them as aviation mechanics. The company currently employs about 50 people.
Avcraft's president Mike Hill said the company had long planned on expanding in Myrtle Beach, but it took incentives from the state and a $100,000 grant from Horry County to allow the company to improve its facilities and hire more people.
Avcraft does maintenance and technical work on commercial aircraft for 46 customers spread out around the world.
Hill said the Grand Strand is a good centralized location for Avcraft, but the company has never fully used all of its 130,000 square feet of hangar space at Myrtle Beach International Airport.
A one million dollar capital investment will change that.
"With the grant that we are receiving through the state and through the county, that gives us the wherewithal to start improving those facilities that we can start bringing in additional aircraft and have more input or throughput in order to support the new jobs that we need," Hill said.
Hill said the company has had trouble finding trained and licensed aviation mechanics, but the newly opened Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics, right next door to Avcraft, should help.
The new jobs will pay about $15 to $16 an hour, Hill said. That would be better than the average wage in Horry County and would add some industrial diversity to the local economy.
"We focus every day on non-tourism jobs so that we can still be the number one tourism center in the country, but also have aviation and marine technology jobs and you just imagine how successful our economy would be if we were firing on all those cylinders," said Brad Lofton, president and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation.
Lofton said the Avcraft expansion is one step in a larger effort to attract the aviation industry to the area. "I'm a great believer in growth begets growth and as the word gets out and the momentum builds, companies are going to take notice." Lofton said the Avcraft expansion is one step in a larger effort to attract the aviation industry to the area. "I'm a great believer in growth begets growth and as the word gets out and the momentum builds, companies are going to take notice."
Lofton said Horry County's aviation industrial park is being marketed to companies around the world, including Boeing suppliers, now that the company's 787 Dreamliner will be built just 90 miles away in North Charleston.
For information on employment at Avcraft, click here.