As doors opened, 60 people turned out for the job fair held by Frontier Communications at Horry Georgetown Technical College's Grand Strand campus. The company is trying to fill 110 positions at a new call center in Myrtle Beach.
The South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce says the state's unemployment rate in May was 9.1 percent, up from 8.8 percent in April. This is the first increase in ten months. The high unemployment rate, 9.9 percent in Florence and Horry counties and 9.5 percent in Georgetown, is actually a draw to companies, like Frontier.
"The decision for companies to locate here is really workforce driven. So they are taking their time to study the labor pool that we have and where we can draw labor from in our surrounding areas," says Kate MacArthur, Marketing Director and Existing Industry with the Myrtle Beach Regional and Economic Development Corporation.
The labor pool and incentives are big bargaining tools the MBREDC tries to use. Incentives, like tax breaks, vary from company to company, but follow a set of standard regulations both from the state and from the county.
For example, Frontier's, MacArthur says, was on a pro-rata basis.
"They are tied to the number of people that they hire. So if they promised to hire 150, and only hire 100, they'll get that percent. If they hire zero, they get zero," she adds.
Horry County Council has charged the MBREDC with bringing 500 jobs to Horry County by 2013. To date, 240 jobs have been promised by companies like Frontier or AvCraft.
Meanwhile, council passed the Project Blue Resolution unanimously on Tuesday July 3rd. The resolution authorizes nearly $1.8 million in funding that can be dispersed to try to accomplish the creation of 1,020 new jobs. Those jobs, the resolution says, will pay no less than $14.31 per hour.
So far, the MREDC is staying tight-lipped about the client they're courting, but Brad Lofton, the MBREDC's president says Horry County is the perfect spot for new business.