An internationally known call center provider plans to open a $10 million office in Carolina Forest that will eventually employ more than 600 people, local officials announced today.

StarTek, which has call centers in the United States, Canada, the Philippines, Costa Rica and Honduras, is expanding to the Grand Strand. The Colorado-based company, which signed off on the deal last week, expects to begin hiring in January.

“I can’t think of a better way to end the 2013 calendar year for the MBREDC than to celebrate the decision of StarTek to locate a large customer service center here in our community,” said Fred Richardson, chairman of the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC), in a prepared statement. “The hard work of all the EDC’s allies and partners is generating significant results.”

The firm plans to open a 50,000-square-foot call center on Hinson Drive in Carolina Forest. Hinson Drive is located near the new Lowes Foods grocery store that’s under construction off International Drive. The road links Towne Centre Drive with Brightwater Drive.

“I don't believe there's a better site that can supply the needed workforce as well as convenient highway access," said state Rep. Mike Ryhal, R-Carolina Forest. "Successful projects like this demonstrate what can be accomplished when the Department of Commerce, Ready SC, County Council, MBREDC and local individuals work together. I'm honored to be part of such a great effort.”

According to county records, the project will create 615 full-time positions over a three-year period and require the company to retain a workforce of at least that size through 2019.

The jobs would pay an average hourly wage of $11.02, which is higher than the federal minimum wage ($7.25) but about $3 below the county’s average hourly wage.

EDC officials, however, said the number in the contract is deceptive because it doesn’t account for overtime, bonuses and benefits. They also said the company plans to hire as many as 670 people, but they included the 615 figure in the contract to be conservative.

The state and Horry County are chipping in incentives for the deal. Along with providing some property tax breaks, the county will also give the company $750,000 as part of the deal.

In order to receive half of the promised cash, the company must build the center and hire 200 people, officials said. The other half of the money will be provided when the company hires another 200 workers.

While the center is being built, the company will train employees and operate in a temporary space at Horry-Georgetown Technical College’s Myrtle Beach campus.

StarTek plans to have the Carolina Forest office finished by the fall of 2014.

Local officials said the site's proximity to HGTC, telecommunications infrastructure and available workforce contributed to StarTek's decision.

Anyone wishing to apply for a job with StarTek should visit the company's website, www.STARTEK.com/careers.

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