Star Tek Loses Contract, Is Horry Job Creation Impacted?

By Paul Gable

Another of the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation’s supposed star job catches appears to be experiencing difficulties, according to sources familiar with recent developments at Star Tek.

A customer service call center, Star Tek was expected to create approximately 665 new jobs in Horry County over a three year period.

However, according to several sources familiar with recent developments, current Star Tek employees received an email last evening saying Star Tek had lost its contract with Direct TV and all current employees were to report to Human Relations today for interviews.

According to county officials, the Direct TV contract was supposed to have been a major job creator for Star Tek hires in Horry County. When Star Tek first came to MBREDC, it supposedly had a “rock solid” three year contract with Direct TV.

Obviously not.

After questions started being asked by the media, the following statement from Rosemary Hanratty, Vice President of Marketing for Star Tek, was issued earlier today:

“Our employees were notified last night that one of our clients with a high seasonal demand is reducing their workforce with STARTEK. This is a natural part of the ebb and flow of our industry. The employees were also told we will be moving them onto a new healthcare client already at the site and ramping.  The new site is now open and things are moving forward as planned.  We are on track with new business for our beautiful new location and are committed to the Myrtle Beach community.”

Morgan Dendy, Director of Marketing and Public Relations for MBREDC, issued the following statement to MBREDC Executive Board members:

“I wanted to make you aware of some potential media coverage regarding STARTEK.  There have been reports that STARTEK is laying people off.

These reports are inaccurate, according to the company representative.  They did make employees aware that they lost their one of their contracts.  Their intentions are to transition those employees into their new contracts coming in.  It is my understanding that some employees may have taken that as they were not going to have a job, but that was not the case.”

The only thing that is unclear about the above statements is why employees hired for the Direct TV contract were being trained as late as yesterday and why neither the company nor MBREDC bothered to inform the state and county governments providing incentives until the media started asking questions.

MBRDC announced the creation of over 1,500 jobs in the last three years, but only about 20% of those have actually been filled with employees, according to a June quarterly report by the Horry County grants administration office.

We have long taken the stand that a job is not created until a person has been hired and is actually working in the new position.

Now, we can see even that criteria may inflate actual job creation totals since the Star Tek development comes shortly after layoffs and pay cuts were announced in July at PTR Industries, another MBREDC supposed star catch.

Several county officials say PTR Industries has since laid off even more of its work force after the initial layoffs, but we have no numbers at this time.

If new jobs are filled, but layoffs occur within the first year of their creation, has anything of real value to the county and its residents actually taken place?

Horry County Council will hold its fall budget retreat in a several weeks during which future funding of MBREDC is expected to be discussed. Horry County currently provides MBREDC with $1.3 million per year of taxpayer dollars.

It will be interesting to see how far council is willing to go with future funding for MBREDC in light of recent developments affecting already announced jobs.


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