On the job hunt? County eyes dozens of new positions

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) With an unemployment rate now flirting with 10 percent, economic leaders are feeling the pressure to get nearly 13,000 people back on the payroll.

Soon, dozens of those job seekers could finally bring home a paycheck.

Horry County Council reviewed a new incentives package Monday night that could develop 80 new manufacturing jobs in Myrtle Beach. Local economic leaders are staying very tight-lipped on the company behind the expansion, and will only confirm the company already has roots in the area.

"It's a company in the heart of the City of Myrtle Beach," Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation President Brad Lofton said. "City council has already unanimously and enthusiastically approved the project."

Lofton says the company plans to expand its operations in a building near Robert Grissom Parkway and Executive Drive in Myrtle Beach. He says the building will be retrofitted and upgraded.

Lofton says as part of the deal, the MBREDC won't have to dip into its closing costs to secure the new positions. Instead, the company is being offered a tax break.

That tax break comes as a win-win situation for both the company and the City of Myrtle Beach. Lofton says the property eyed for expansion was previously tax exempt, and now the city will begin to collect revenue on the property from the new company.

"Fifty percent of the taxes they're going to be paying now are new taxes to the community," Lofton said. "This is a win-win for the City of Myrtle Beach, Horry County and those 80 folks."

People on the hunt for manufacturing jobs say they're happy to see economic leaders pursuing the industry.

"The unemployment office is packed and it's hard to find jobs," David Williams, who's been out of work for nearly six months, said. "We need some jobs around here. I'm tired of these jobs hardly paying minimum wage."

While "Project AF" is a victory for local economic development, Lofton says it's only the beginning of what could be a rush of new jobs to the Grand Strand.

Right now, the MBREDC is actively pursuing 10 to 15 prospective companies looking to invest a combined $400 million in Horry County. Lofton says those investments could bring upwards of 5,000-7,000 new jobs.

"It's really a Catch 22. For the prospect, they enjoy seeing high unemployment so they can hire plentiful, skilled labor," Lofton said.

The "Project AF" incentives package will need to pass three readings at Horry County Council to gain approval.

Crossing that first hurdle, the jobs incentive passed its first reading before Horry County Council Monday night, but county leaders have not yet said which company they're working to bring in.

They did say that they future manufacturing jobs pay $13.50 per hour and the company would be located off Robert Grissom Parkway in Myrtle Beach.

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