An Atlanta-based startup that provides customer support for telecommunications providers plans to open a call center in Hickory that could employ as many as 913 people over the next two years.

Gov. Mike Easley’s office said Tuesday that Covation LLC would receive a $600,000 state grant if it follows through on its employment and investment targets in Hickory.

The One North Carolina grant requires a local match. Local officials are considering a variety of incentives, according to the Hickory Record newspaper.

Covation said it would invest nearly $5.5 million in the facility.

“We are delighted with the support of both state and local officials to bring this large employment opportunity to Hickory,” said Covation Vice President for Community Affairs Joseph Sanders in a statement. “We look forward to being an active member of the business community for many years to come.”

Jobs will include technical support, billing and customer service, according to the Record.

The jobs will pay an average of $34,500 a year, plus benefits. The average wage in Catawba County is $33,300 a year.

“This is very good news and a great way to end the year,” Easley said in a statement. “Even as the national economic slowdown has made things tough in North Carolina, our smart, targeted investments in education and workforce training continue to attract companies that are looking to succeed and grow.”