More than 600 call center jobs coming to Horry County

An announcement is expected soon on more than 600 new jobs for the Grand Strand, as a call center will be setting up shop in Horry County.

Officials say County Council has already signed off on incentives for the company, which has not been identified.

Last year, Frontier Communications opened a call center in Myrtle Beach that employs more than 100 people.

The new company has contracted to bring 615 similar jobs to the county within the next 24 months.

County leaders say it shows the Grand Strand has developed a niche in the call center industry and that companies are taking notice.

"The quality of the people that are applying for the jobs has been phenomenal and so a lot of these folks are seeing that and they see the ability and the ready workforce that we have. It's exciting," said County Council chairman Mark Lazarus.

The call center will begin operations in a building on the Horry Georgetown Technical College Grand Strand campus, but Lazarus says the company has contracted with a private developer to construct a new building near International Drive and Highway 31.

Lazarus says starting pay for workers will be a little over $11 an hour, but with a generous benefits package that pushes it up to around $14 per hour.

Still, the starting pay was low enough that County Council had to approve a wage variance measure before the county could offer an incentive package. Lazarus says the deal is well worth it.

"Once the people are established and they get the benefits and the full time jobs that'll come with it, it's about a $49 million a year economic impact that they'll have on our economy," Lazarus said.

A formal announcement is expected within a week, so nothing is final yet, but Lazarus says the deal is all but done.

"A lot of groundwork has been formulated. We're just waiting for the final leases to be signed."

Officials with the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation say the turnover rate for employees at the existing call centers on the Grand Strand is far below the industry average, which is another reason why call centers are attracted to the area.