12/11/07 — AT&T to open call center

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AT&T to open call center

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on December 11, 2007 2:03 PM

AT&T, the world's largest communications holding company, announced this morning that it will bring 350 new jobs to Wayne County over the course of the next year.

"Christmas is coming early this year. This is a good deal for Wayne County," county Board of Commissioners Chairman Bud Gray said.

"It's exciting to have this kind of industry and business coming to Goldsboro and Wayne County. It's exciting to be a part of this. It's going to be a tremendous marriage," Goldsboro Mayor Al King added.

The broadband technical support call center -- AT&T is the nation's largest broadband provider -- will be located in the former Winn- Dixie facility on U.S. 117 South in the Neuse River Shopping Center near the intersection of the Old Mount Olive Highway.

"This will be one of the major centers," said AT&T state President Cynthia Marshall.

Part of the company's Internet subsidiary, it will be one of several handling customer support for AT&T's high speed Internet service for the Southeastern region -- the former Bell South states, including North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky and Tennessee.

According to Wayne County Development Alliance President Joanna Thompson, Goldsboro was one of five finalists for the center after an initial review of thousands of sites across the country.

"The workforce demographic in Wayne and surrounding counties, specifically the availability of tech support talent, was a deciding factor in putting Goldsboro at the top," she said.

She explained the availability of the workforce was identified with the help of a team of officials from Wayne Community College, the state Employment Security Commission, local staffing agencies, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and several local businesses.

Ms. Marshall explained that the decision to come to North Carolina was motivated, in large part, by its "good business climate."

"(North Carolina) is one of the best states in the country to live, work and do business in," she said. "These jobs could have gone anywhere in the Southeast, but we looked at where the economy was right and where we could make an investment that would benefit us and the community.

"This is true economic development at it's best. This will be good for the company and for the community."

Also helping tip the scales was a $300,000 building re-use and restoration grant from the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center. An additional $4.5 million is expected to be invested by the company to install the needed infrastructure in the former grocery store.

The center will employ approximately 50 full-time employees when it opens, sometime in February or March.

Hiring should begin within the next 30 days, and prospective job candidates are encouraged to apply online at www.att.com.

Marshall said they expect the center should be fully operational by the second quarter of 2008, and that it will reach the 350-employee mark by the end of 2008.

It has the potential to be a 24-hour/seven-day-a-week operation.

High school graduates and individuals with some college experience will be preferred, officials added, and salaries and benefits are expected to be "competitive" with other businesses in Wayne County. The jobs are considered customer services/technical positions.

By the time the center is fully staffed, the annual payroll is expected to be about $8 million.

"They'll be competitive and that'll be a plus in terms of recruitment and retention," Ms. Thompson said.

She also explained that these jobs -- and other call centers being opened in the Southeast -- are part of an effort by AT&T to "repatriate jobs from offshore into the U.S."

"This is part of an effort to bring jobs back into the U.S.," Ms. Marshall confirmed. "We've been talking about it for a few years and as part of the merger (with Bell South), one of the conditions was that we bring jobs back to the U.S."

The news is the latest in a long line of positive announcements this year, following Reuel Inc., 50 new jobs, and AAR, 500 new jobs by 2011.

"It's a huge deal," Ms. Thompson said. "This is 800 new jobs for Wayne County.

"We don't get a chance very often to announce as many job as we have this year. It's been a stellar year for Wayne County."