By JEFFREY COLLINSGREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) â¿¿ TD Bank is showing it just isn't manufacturing jobs coming to South Carolina. The bank celebrated the opening of its call center at its Southeast regional hub in Greenville on Friday. The hub contains lenders, technology workers and employee training as well as a call center. The bank's campus has 600 workers and the company is adding 30 new employees a month with a goal to have 1,400 workers in the next three to five years, TD Bank Regional President Rob Hoak said. The grand opening of the call center came after a series of groundbreakings for distribution centers, tire makers and other manufacturers over the past few years. South Carolina's unemployment rate has dropped from 11.9 percent to 8.6 percent over the past three years. House Speaker Bobby Harrell said state leaders have worked hard to fight back after the Great Recession. "We are a pro-business state. We've passed tort reform, we've passed workers' comp reform, we've passed right-to-work legislation. We recognize that our job, our goal is to provide an environment to allow businesses to expand and grow," Harrell said. The call center sits on two floors. It is painted in cheerful colors. The first floor is surrounded by windows, and employees, who are constantly starting work throughout the day, are rotated around the room to cubicles keep the sun out of their eyes. The second floor has giant murals of South Carolina scenes, like beaches, forests and farmland. Many of them wore shirts or ties or even silly hats in TD Bank's trademark green. And they were working as the ceremony took place in the lobby. TD Bank picked Greenville as its Southeastern hub last year. The company's dual U.S. headquarters remain in New Jersey and Maine. Hoak said the company has been happy with the quality of workers it has found in South Carolina, and gets thousands of applications for the wide range of its open positions.
The company used a research firm to choose where to locate its new hub, taking into account education levels, cost of living, housing prices and average wages, among other factors, Hoak said."It all came back to Greenville. And we considered cities like Charlotte, Atlanta, Miami, Tampa, Orlando," Hoak said. TD Bank's three gleaming buildings sit just off Interstate 85, right by Clemson University's International Center for Automotive Research. The complex's eye-catching architecture gives the Upstate landmarks other than the giant peach in Gaffney and BMW in Greer along one of the state's busiest roads. Greenville Mayor Knox White said an out-of-town friend who frequently drives from Atlanta to Washington, D.C., said it is the prettiest thing he sees. "Perhaps those of us who live here and are close to it don't see it every day," White said. "But more and more, thousands of people do. This is our face. This is our front door."