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A new J.C. Penney catalog telemarketing center that is expected to have annual payroll of $3 to $4 million will begin full operations May 1, said the center manager.

Steve Davis, who will head the Bountiful operation, said at a press conference Monday afternoon that the company has started taking applications for 800 full- and part-time workers for the center. Interviews will be conducted in March and training for workers will begin in April.The center will be located on the second level of the J.C. Penney building at 101 W. 16th North in Bountiful. Construction on the 21,000-square-foot facility will begin soon. The center operation will not affect present retail operations, Davis said.

"Bountiful won hands down. There was no close competition," Davis said of the center selection process. Other cities including Tucson, Ariz., were in the running for the center.

Davis said an ideal labor market, the state's emphasis on education and a rapidly growing Western market were reasons J.C. Penney selected the Bountiful site. He also noted the company's roots in Wyoming and Salt Lake City.

Davis said the company is bringing in eight out-of-state managers and the rest of the employees will hired locally. Full-time positions will be in administrative and support areas. Part-time positions will be for telephone customer service representatives working 20 to 25 hours each week on a flexible schedule.

"A customer calling the shop-by-phone number will speak with the J.C. Penney customer service representative who will use a data terminal to confirm instantly the availability of merchandise. The customer service representative can also provide information about other colors, sizes and special promotions," a company news release said.

Davis said that wages will be competitive with other telemarketing operations in Utah, but said those levels would be determined after a market survey is completed. J.C. Penney is also offering a wide range of employee benefits, including medical and dental insurance, discounts on merchandise and profit-sharing plans.

During its first year of operation the company plans to concentrate workers on answering incoming toll-free calls from J.C. Penney catalog customers. The 24-hour operation may then start, including servicing of other outgoing telephone solicitation accounts, Davis said.

The center will service calls for selected Western and Midwestern states for three distribution centers in Reno, Nev., Kansas City and Milwaukee. The center and 15 others handle about 97 percent of the retail firm's catalog orders. The catalog division's gross sales in 1988 reached about $4 billion, Davis said.

Job applications are being taken through Friday, March 10, at the Job Service office, 1579 S. State, Clearfield. The office is open Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.