Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Remember when Gov. John Kitzhaber told the state's business leaders that rural and metro Oregon must grow at the same pace? "Creating 15 jobs in Coos Bay," he said, "is the same as creating 500 jobs in Portland."
Well Coos Bay just landed 250 jobs, when First Call Resolution announced this week that it will open a call center downtown. It's welcome news in a county with a 12% unemployment rate. And, by the governor's metric, those 250 jobs are the equivalent of more than 8,300 jobs in Portland.
"That's going to have a wonderful impact on the vitality downtown," says Joyce Jansen, economic revitalization administrator for Coos Bay. The center will be at Anderson Avenue and Second Court Street, two blocks from the boardwalk.
Renovations have just begun, and it likely will begin operating by early fall with about 50 employees, says John Stadter, president and managing partner of the company. In a year or so, it will fill to 250, he says, as his two other centers did in Grant's Pass and Roseburg.
"I think we offer a pretty good reputation of doing what we say we are going to do as a company," he says, adding something of a pledge that First Call Resolution won't renege.
The company chose Coos Bay for several reasons, Stradter says: It's close to the Roseburg headquarters, he has high regard for a state business developer in the area and "the employee base there is just really strong." First Call Resolution's expansion marks the second time Stradter has opened a call center in Coos Bay. The first one came about 12 years ago when he was working as an operations manager for 800 Support. Now that center has a different owner, but it still employs hundreds.
Employees at the new center will field support calls for various industries, including health care, travel and wireless. Entry level jobs will start at $9 an hour with benefits, and a profit-sharing plan will be available to employees who stay two years. "Our intent is to be a complete, real employer, instead of just churning employees like a lot of call centers do," Stadter says.
When Jansen talked to Oregon Business, word hadn't yet spread around the town, but she anticipated excitement. "Anytime we get a new business, we kind of celebrate."
Corey Paul is an associate writer at Oregon Business.