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Some workers have started with training



Published: Wed, February 23, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The company plans to fill the former MCI call center.

NILES -- Tiny "now hiring" signs at the entrances to West Corp.'s 5185 Youngstown-Warren Road building hint at bigger things going on inside.

Company officials told local leaders during a ceremony Tuesday that 800 jobs have been created at the customer service call center -- and 700 more are on the way.

"I need 1,500 people in this site that have the will, skill and desire to compete. But not just to compete -- to win," said John Sanley, a West Corp. executive vice president.

West Corp. of Omaha, Neb., founded in 1986, is a customer service provider with 27,000 employees in the United States, Europe and Asia. It moved into the 83,000-square-foot former MCI call center in Niles late last year, investing more than $1.8 million to renovate the leased facility.

Inside, the employees are working to set "a new standard for superior customer service," working with "two very recognizable American brand companies" that Sanley declined to identify.

The Cingular logo could be seen inside the call center. The other company is believed to be DirecTV, because the 700 jobs to come will provide technical support for a satellite broadcasting company. Of those, 150 people are being trained already.

West Corp., Regional Chamber and government representatives applauded the team effort that brought West here in the aftermath of losing MCI and its jobs.

"There's a clich & eacute; saying, 'When the door closes, a window opens,'" said Julie Michael Smith, the governor's representative from the Ohio Department of Development. MCI was Niles' largest employer when last March it announced plans to close its call center, idling 700. The layoffs resulted in a substantial drop in income tax revenue for the city.

Vision

Smith said West had a commitment and a vision for filling up the Niles facility once more.

Sanley said the company is planning $750,000 in capital investment including computer purchases.

He lauded the ease of doing business here, the resources and incentives offered to the company, and the professionalism he's found locally. The company received a 75-percent, 10-year tax abatement on its real and personal property taxes from local governments.

When West says, "Niles is the model for the world. I love it. It's music to my ears," said U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th.

Niles Mayor Ralph Infante liked what he heard, too.

"When he [Sanley] said 'another 700 jobs,' the mayor grabbed me over there. He can feel the tax money coming in," Ryan said.

"We want you to be successful and be here for a long time," Infante said.

The employees all are offered a 30-hour schedule that makes them eligible for benefits; they may also choose to work part time, the company said. An employee said she makes $8 an hour with incentives, such as attendance, to make more. The Regional Chamber, using a job creation figure of 1,000, said that would represent $14.4 million in payroll.

Trumbull County Commissioner Daniel Polivka said local, county and state officials are working together, regardless of political affiliation, to be more business-friendly. He called it "a new era for Trumbull County."

Also among those in attendance was state Rep. Sandra Stabile Harwood of Niles, D-65th.

The Ohio Department of Development said West's job creation here was one of the largest in the state in 2004.

West calls itself the nation's "premier provider of outsourced communication solutions," specializing in customer acquisition, customer care and interactive voice response services -- as well as conferencing and collection services.

To apply for jobs, visit the Youngstown-Warren Road building or West Corp.'s online site, www.west.com/careers.




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