Jobs, businesses, development down the road for International Drive

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - International Drive changes by the day, as new businesses are being built, but the one creating the most buzz is the new call center, expected to bring hundreds of jobs to our area.

The STARTEK, Inc. call center, soon to be a vital part of the Carolina Forest Towne Center is coming to life, as jobs are in the process of being filled, and you can still apply on the company's website.

Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation says we can expect the first wave of hiring to take place through the next two weeks, but filling all 600-plus jobs will take place over two years.

"They're looking at around 250 in year one and ramping up the balance of another 400 in year two," says MBRED President Brad Lofton. An influx of jobs, he says, we haven't seen in over a decade.

The STARTEK center will aid the development of the fast growing, Carolina Forest Community, bringing new retail, service and housing to the area, a $50 million impact to Horry County as a whole.

"Twelve thousand people in Horry County are unemployed. Right now we hover between nine and 10 percent unemployment. Six hundred jobs alone will make about a half a point to three-quarters of a point impact on that annual unemployment rate," Lofton says."

The call center will bring in year-round jobs, addressing the issue of many seasonal jobs in our area.

MNRED says bringing in jobs by a publicly traded company, like STARTEK, with a major national presence, means that job opportunities don't have to end at 600, and we may see more jobs in the long term.

That's not the only area of growth we can expect to see along International Drive. The Lowe's Food Store, currently being built, was set to open in 2008 but was held back by the economy. It is now expected to open in May, showing an upward swing for our economy.

Roger Henderson, VP of Real Estate for Lowe's Foods says this store, will feature the companies latest store layout with extra amenities. It will be the first in Horry County built from the ground up.

Lowe's will share International Drive with Bojangles, McDonalds and Kangaroo; however, Bo Ives, with the Carolina Forest Civic Association says there's more to come. Expect to see a CVS, Walgreens, Dunkin Donuts and two other businesses.

More jobs and businesses will attract more people, so the Town Center Development is in the process of building a complex with over 200 units.

Expect the road to growth in Horry County to only continue.

"Horry County expects to begin construction on the lengthening of International Drive in connection with Highway 90. That gives developers here more confidence that there will be steady traffic here," says Ives.

Redevelopment raises questions about traffic in the area, but Ives says a new traffic light will be installed on International Drive that will allow drivers to take a road between Lowe's and McDonalds, breaking up traffic on the main road.

To apply for a job with STARTEK, Inc.

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