MBREDC hopes to bring new business to Grand Strand - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Economic development corp. hopes to bring new business to Grand Strand

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - There are new details on the number of jobs coming in to the area. After several jobs announcements, we're slowly starting to see those jobs move in. StarTek, Inc., one of the latest companies to make a job announcement, is setting up at the Horry Georgetown Technical College Grand Strand Campus.

StarTek announced moving a customer support call center in December, and two months later, the company is transforming the campus gym into a temporary training space. It made the promise to hire more than 600 people in the area over the next three years.

PTR Industries in Aynor is up and operating, with 40 hires. Most of the equipment has been brought in from Connecticut, and soon workers will roll out the first batch of rifles that say "Made in South Carolina".

Accent Stainless Steel from Canada will start construction work on its new headquarters at the Loris Business Park in 60 days, and then will hire 65 new people.

New companies have promised 1,100 jobs in Horry County, and 400 of those jobs have materialized so far. If that sounds like a small number, the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation CEO Brad Lofton explains that it takes time for businesses to relocate and set up, but now we're seeing those companies bring actual W-2s to our area.

"You'll start seeing those 400 ramp up to 700, then 900, then 1,000, then we'll start announcing more," said Lofton. "But the W-2s will start lagging behind and coming up as well, so it's exciting times. You'll start to see our unemployment dive down."

Although StarTek, Inc. is busy moving in, HGTC will only be the temporary home. The company representative tells WMBF News they plan to break ground on the new 50,000 square foot facility in Carolina Forest within a couple of weeks.

Horry County can't always compete for the large manufacturers, so now the economic development corporation is trying to grow the business here. The focus is on technology-related businesses and start-ups. This would be software development companies, credit card processing, and computer programmers.

The State Department of Commerce is leading this initiative, and is handing out $2.5 million in grants to the most promising areas in South Carolina. Horry County can get up to $250,000 of that money, and has to be willing to match the amount. The plan is to use it to start a technology incubator, a building with all the equipment needed to push a business forward.

It won't be a quick overnight return to the county, but it's an investment that could generate big results long-term.

"Providing resources to help grow your own company," said Lofton. "It's referred to as economic gardening. Try to grow those companies that are here and they're already loyal to the Grand Strand."

If technology start-ups seem a little out of place here in the Grand Strand, some who are already doing it say, "Why not?" There are already similar business incubators in Florence and Hartsville. Some supporters have a website called "WhyNottTheBeach.com", listing and showing all the reasons why our area is a great place for technology-based companies.

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