Myrtle_Beach_Regional_Economic_Development_Corporation

Horry County is a finalist for a major manufacturing project that could create more than 100 jobs and spur an investment of over $100 million, local officials said.

An unidentified Southeastern company is looking to expand and Horry is one of a handful of remaining sites still in consideration, local leaders said.

Few details have been released about the project, but officials hope to hear something soon. County leaders and economic development agents have been discussing different financial incentives packages to offer the company.

“We’re hoping within the next couple of weeks we’ll have some real positive news,” said Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus.

Word of another company possibly coming to Horry arrives at a time of mixed news for the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC), the county’s industry recruitment arm.

This week, gun maker PTR Industries, often touted as a signature success of the EDC, laid off eight workers and trimmed the wages of remaining employees after seeing weak summer sales.

But county officials remain optimistic that PTR will get back on track. They’re also pleased with a recent report from the state Department of Commerce that showed Horry ranked among the Top 5 counties in the state in job announcements last year. Horry made the list at No. 4 with 1,153 jobs announced. Charleston led all counties with 2,483 job announcements.

Horry also ranked No. 5 in the number of firms recruited with seven. Greenville led that category with 17.

The one area where Horry struggled was in the amount of private money invested. The county didn’t even crack the Top 10 in that category.

However, if the latest project comes to fruition, those tens of millions would provide a strong boost in that arena.

“We’ve got a lot of good things going on with the EDC and bringing in new industry and new jobs,” Lazarus said. “We’re just continuing to grow and seek out the right opportunities.”

Brad Lofton, CEO of the EDC, declined to elaborate on the latest project. He did say the county’s plans for the agency are succeeding after several years of effort.

“We’re finally starting to see the tree’s bearing fruit,” he said. “We’ve gone from the bottom of the heap to the Top 10 percent in the state.”

Lofton acknowledges that maintaining that momentum will be a challenge. Last year, the local project tied to the highest number of jobs was a call center in Carolina Forest. That business, StarTek, is expected to hire more than 600 workers in the coming years.

“You don’t get a lot of call center projects on an annual basis,” Lofton said. “We’re going to have to really work hard to keep that pace up.”

The EDC must also prove that its announcements are leading to actual hires.

As of Dec. 31, the agency had announced 1,425 jobs, but just 316 of those positions had been filled, according to county records.

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I'm the editor of myhorrynews.com and the Carolina Forest Chronicle, a weekly newspaper in Horry County, South Carolina. I cover county government, the justice system and agriculture. Know of a story that needs to be covered? Call me at 843-488-7236.

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