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Verizon bringing in 1,100 jobs

Company picks W.V. for its new call center

Verizon Wireless has made the call on moving a customer service center, and Utah is the winner.

About 1,100 jobs will be created as the company ramps up employment at a new call center at 2777 S. Corporate Park Drive, West Valley City, the telecommunications giant announced Tuesday morning in a press conference at Gov. Mike Leavitt's office.

The prototype state-of-the-art customer service center will serve Verizon's Mountain time zone customers.

The company reviewed sites in five Western states before settling on West Valley City. The primary competitors for the $42 million project were Denver, Colorado Springs and Boise.

Verizon will begin hiring immediately and begin training in April. The call center will operate in a temporary facility in the same office park until the new, 120,000-square-foot facility is ready. The work force is expected to be between 1,000 and 1,100 by next year.

The annual payroll will be about $30.8 million. Entry-level jobs will have salaries in the mid- to high $20,000s. Senior customer service management and technical staff salaries will be in the mid-to high $50,000s.

Customer service calls will be routed to the West Valley facility perhaps as early as May 1. Workers will move to the new facility in June, and it will be fully operational in July.

Currently, Mountain time zone customer calls are handled at Verizon call centers in Englewood, Colo., and Tempe, Ariz. The company plans to close the Englewood center, and its 170 employees will be offered relocation packages to move to any other Verizon Wireless facility. The Tempe call center will continue to operate, serving needs of customers in three Southwestern states.

Verizon Communications Inc. companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with nearly 109 million access line equivalents and more than 27.5 million wireless customers in 96 of the top 100 U.S. markets.

Verizon has more than 260,000 employees and last year had net income of $8 billion on revenues of $63.4 billion.

The company is hailing the move as the first time that a wireless company in the United States has selected Utah as the home for a call center. Verizon, the largest wireless carrier in Utah, has a sales and network organization in the Sugar House area that employs about 200 people.

Lisa Bowersock, executive director of public relations for Verizon Wireless, said Utah was attractive to the company because of its educated and knowledgeable work force, a good real estate market "and clear indications from state leaders that they wanted Verizon Wireless to do business in their state."

"When we analyzed the Utah labor market, it was very impressive as the state helped us get a real appreciation of not just an available work force but an educated and knowledgeable work force," Bowersock said. "That is a constant challenge for customer service businesses today."

Utah also has a solid economy and a governor aggressively attracting high-tech business to the state, she said.

The state Board of Business and Economic Development sweetened the pie to get Verizon to Utah. The board last month approved up to $750,000 in Utah Industrial Assistance Fund monies to help fund the company's job creation.

Verizon will receive $1,115 per job that has wages between 115 percent and 125 percent of the Salt Lake County average. The amount will be $2,000 for jobs above 125 percent of the county average. The funds will be paid over five years, and each job will need to be in place for at least a year.

In addition to its wireless business, Verizon has a wireline presence in 31 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, serving 67 of the top 100 U.S. markets.

Verizon, the fourth-largest long-distance provider in the U.S., recently passed the 5 million customer mark. Its goal is to have 6.4 million to 6.6 million long-distance customers by year-end.

Verizon has 3.9 million international access lines and 8.1 million international wireless customers.

The company also is the world's largest provider of print and online directory information, with a directory circulation of 147 million and an average of 4.2 million online directory visits per month.


E-mail: bwallace@desnews.com