10/01/08 — AT&T hosts grand opening for call center

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AT&T hosts grand opening for call center

By Steve Herring
Published in News on October 1, 2008 1:53 PM

News-Argus/Greg Sousa

Local, state and national leaders get a demonstration Tuesday on some of the latest communications technology during a tour of the new AT&T Call Center in Mar-Mac.

MAR-MAC -- The 400 jobs at the AT&T Call Center here are among 5,000 jobs that the company is repatriating from jobs that had been out-sourced overseas.

Housed in what was a vacant grocery store, the call center has been in operation for several months. On Tuesday morning, local, state and national leaders gathered for a grand opening.

They took advantage of the event to tout the state's business-friendly atmosphere, praise the quality of the area's workforce and emphasize the effectiveness of joint public/private partnership.

"It is exciting, more exciting today than when we first announced, to see the community come together," said Cynthia Marshall, AT&T president for North Carolina.

"To think that this was a grocery store and to watch what has occurred over the past year. It is just a testament that when people come together, when the public/private partnership is really solid this is what can happen. You can make a difference in people's lives and that is what AT&T is about."

The company, she said, was impressed with the applications and the quality of the work force that applied for jobs at the call center.

"We were not surprised, but actually delighted with the quality of the folks and we said 'we need to expand this center' so instead of 350 it will be 400 and it really is because of the quality of the workers here."

Ms. Marshall had praise for Mayor Al King and county commission Chairman Bud Gray and their staffs.

"They worked uncounted hours to get us all the information we needed and give us the ammunition we needed to prove to the company that Goldsboro was not just the best choice to locate this center, but that it truly was the only choice," she said.

"We are not just celebrating good news for North Carolina this afternoon, this is part of a larger effort that we think is really good for the entire county," AT&T Chairman Randall Stephenson told the audience.

He noted that the center is one of 13 nationwide that will boast 5,000 jobs that were formerly out-sourced.

"It shows what can be accomplished when business and all levels of government work together," Stephenson said. "The facility also is an example of our continuing commitment to be a responsible employer and good corporate citizen in communities we serve."

He added, "We needed lot of smart, tech-savvy folks to staff it. It is a compliment to this region that we hired all of our customer assistants locally. We recruited most of our manager here as well."

"This is an awesome day, an awesome day," King said. "We have an awesome group of people and I am so proud of what we have done, what they have done. Because of them (staff) I am standing up here celebrating something unique, something that some people said would never happen to Goldsboro. However, look around, it has happened, it is real and we are so proud that you took the time come out and join with us and celebrate this outstanding day."

"Welcome to Wayne County," Gray said. "I just wanted to let you know you picked the right place, the right state and the right county to come to. We just urge you to get bigger and bigger and bigger and use our workforce.

Gray said the AT&T is the kind of company that brings other quality companies to the area.

Third District Congressman Walter B. Jones Jr. applauded the AT&T move.

"I hope we will understand that you do not reward American companies that move overseas and take the jobs with them," Jones said. "You reward companies that decide to stay in this country and keep the good jobs for the American people."

First District Congressman G.K. Butterfield said, "I agree with the notion to discourage American companies from taking jobs offshore and to benefit from cheap labor abroad and AT&T has stepped up to the plate and has made jobs available to this community."