Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Business

April 4, 2010

Sitel begins hiring locally

GLASGOW — Jobs are finally coming to the Sitel call center facility next to the Western Kentucky University-Glasgow campus off Roseville Road and Trojan Trail, but the flow of new employment opportunities at the operation will be more of a trickle than a flood at the beginning.

The company hired approximately 20 employees on March 31 through the local career center.

“Sitel has kicked off operations in Glasgow with our first class of 18 new agents coming online in March,” Andrew Kokes, vice president of communications for Sitel, answered in response to e-mail questions sent to him on April 1.

Although Kokes did not answer directly as to whether Sitel has signed contracts for one or more clients to occupy the Glasgow facility, he did say the new employees will be handling both incoming and outgoing telephone calls and additional workers will continue to be hired.

“These agents will service a growing portfolio of customer demand. Agents will be providing both outbound and inbound risk mitigation services,” Kokes said. “The initial class will be the first of several more classes planned to grow with this current program to 200-plus agents in the coming months.”

More than 100 people applied for the initial Sitel positions, according to Sandy Mudd, a re-employment specialist for the Glasgow Area Career Center.

“I know we saw a huge amount of people,” she said. “And we’re still taking applications.”

City, county and state officials have been working since the beginning of 2006 to bring the Sitel call center operation with its headquarters based in Nashville to the community.

Former state Rep. Steve Nunn, then a Republican from Glasgow, and state Sen. Richie Sanders, R-Bowling Green, along with Glasgow Mayor Darrell Pickett, Barren County Judge-Executive Davie Greer, and then Glasgow-Barren County Industrial Development & Economic Authority executive director Scott Luth and board president Steve Newberry worked for 18 months trying to convince then Gov. Ernie Fletcher to allow state incentives to be used to lure the company to the area.

Fletcher initially refused to give tax breaks for Sitel to locate in Barren County because the base wage the company paid was beneath the county’s prevailing wage.

A bill sponsored by first-term Rep. Johnny Bell, D, Glasgow, got the call center back on track. Bell’s bill passed in 2007 and Fletcher signed it after he said Sanders educated him on the bill and that local officials explained the community’s need for the call center.

The new legislation allowed Sitel to pay lower wages and receive incentives if the company located the facility near a regional postsecondary education campus and employed students.

Sitel president and CEO Dave Garner, Fletcher, Bell and many other local and state officials met at the site in July 2007 to announce the anticipated opening of the call center. At the time, Garner said the proximity to Sitel’s headquarters, the assets of the community – workforce, educational opportunities and other amenities – made the location very appealing.

Garner said the focus and hard work of local officials went a long way to keep his company interested in building a call center in Barren County, even when it appeared state officials were against it.

Construction on the Glasgow facility began a year later in August of 2008 adjacent to the WKU-Glasgow campus and was completed ahead of schedule by the end of that year. The facility is divided into two main work areas with 13 offices, four training rooms, a conference room, data server room, reception area and restrooms located in between them. The large work spaces are both 15,300 square feet in area and have the capacity for approximately 260 employees each or 520 total. The total footprint of the building is approximately 45,000 square feet.

A number of potential clients have toured the facility during the past year including Apple, but no deals were struck for occupancy and so the building has remained empty up until now. Sitel took possession of the building in January of 2009 and has been paying rent to IDEA on a 60-month schedule, which will cover the remaining amortized amount owed.

Sitel offers employees service-oriented, non-manufacturing jobs. Their call center workers represent client companies in automotive, financial, health care, travel and tourism, communications and technology industries. Services provided for those clients include revenue generation, customer care, technical support, receivables management and back office services such as data entry, records retention and customer correspondence.

“Sitel remains very optimistic about the capability of the Glasgow location to be a showcase location in our domestic network of call centers,” Kokes said. “The close proximity to our Nashville headquarters combined with the availability of skilled talent in Glasgow make it an ideal location for Sitel to create new jobs.”

Dan Iacconi, current executive director of the Glasgow-Barren County Industrial Development & Economic Authority, is looking forward to fostering a successful partnership with the company.

“When IDEA first met with Sitel we felt that they would be a great asset in our community,” Iacconi said. “Sitel cares about their product, services and people. That’s three keys for success.”

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