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Call-center operation is ‘home run’ for city



Published: Thu, August 13, 2009 @ 12:00 a.m.

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U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles

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Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams

VXI Global Solutions is expected to hire 150 people by Oct. 1.

By William K. Alcorn

YOUNGSTOWN — A Los Angeles-based call-center company says it will set up business in the city-owned former Phar-Mor Building downtown and eventually employ about 500.

Mayor Jay Williams said VXI Global Solutions is expected to hire 150 people by Oct. 1, when the center is scheduled to open at 20 Federal Place, and an additional 50 a month after that, up to about 500.

If business is really good, VXI has an option on a second floor of the building and could nearly double that number of employees in the future, said Williams, who announced the company’s coming at a news conference Wednesday.

“This is a home run for Youngstown,” said U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th. “This is a perfect example of stimulus recovery funds that couldn’t be better spent.”

VXI says it will spend $4 million to retrofit the 31,000 square feet of the structure formerly occupied by Infocision Management Corp., another call-center operation that relocated to its Boardman and Austintown facilities early this year.

VXI has signed a five-year lease with a five-year renewal option, Williams said.

While the loss of Infocision was not good news, a key factor in VXI choosing Youngstown is that the building already has the electronic infrastructure in place for VXI’s type of business, said Walter M. Good, Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber vice president of economic development, business retention and expansion. This was a very competitive process, he said.

Another key factor in choosing Youngstown over other sites in Mahoning and Trumbull counties and across the nation, which VXI noted in its news release, is Ohio’s Job Creation Tax Credit program.

Under the program, the company will get a tax credit for a portion of the income tax that its employees pay, said Arnold Clebone, director of the Ohio Department of Development’s regional office.

VXI will invest $4 million in the site and the city will contribute $600,000 in federal stimulus funds, which the city will recover through rent paid by VXI, the mayor said.

The rent is $3.58 per square foot on an annual basis, with a reduction for every $400,000 invested, said a city official said, who noted that new VXI hires will be paid an average of $10 per hour. The company is initially looking for experienced professionals in human resources, information technology and contact center operations, she said. Recruiting is being handled by the Mahoning Columbiana Training Association in conjunction with Ohio Job and Family Services One Stop program.

Even in the middle of an economic decline, Youngstown continues to prove that it knows how to get collaborative projects like this done, Williams said.

“We’re in the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression. It’s amazing what the mayor has accomplished. While other parts of the country are struggling, we here in the Mahoning Valley have been through it and know how to deal with it,” Ryan said.

“We are proving that Youngstown is one of the best places in the country to start a business,” said Williams, referring to the August issue of Entrepreneur magazine, which named Youngstown as one of the Top 10 cities in the U.S. to start a business.

The magazine gives each city in the Top 10 a nickname. For Youngstown, it’s “The Dreamer” — a small city determined to break away from its economic failures of the past.

Williams said the city is embarking on a marketing campaign, using the magazine article as fodder, to keep the positive side of Youngstown on people’s minds.

The major said it is still a challenge to sell Youngstown, but it is getting easier and easier.

“If we can get businesses in the door, I guarantee we will be among the finalists. We’ve had other deals we didn’t get, but if we can get them here, we give ourselves a good chance,” he said.

The perception of Youngstown around the country is changing, Ryan said.

“We’re pushing location and quality of life. People are realizing this is a great place to do business,” he said.

alcorn@vindy.com


Comments

1laddjd(15 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

i am sure that our congressman is happy with this coup,but are these jobs truely going to better the life of its employees and contribute to our economy. If these are the type of jobs the stimulus package will produce we are in trouble.

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2northsideperson(365 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Service-industry jobs are the future - and have been for some time. These jobs can pay well for people with specific training, skills and experience.

Service-industry jobs for unskilled labor do not pay well compared to wages earned in manufacturing in the valley's past.

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3UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Not the kind of jobs Y-town needs. Low paying without benefits and union support. Ryan is getting scared as Jimbo will soon return and then it's bye bye time for Timmy Boy. if this is the best he can do, then go away Timmy.

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4TB(1167 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

It's not the union influence. It's the high unemployment rate. This call center knows people are going to be happy to have a job, even if it pays poorly (see Liberty Wal-Mart for another example.)

While it's good to see some jobs coming back, the real concern is that there is no permanence. Were it a factory or manufacturing company that actually MAKES SOMETHING, the impetus to leave the valley after setting up shop would be much less because of the investment in the area. Companies like this are almost fly-by-night companies that can close up and reopen in a short amount of time.

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5JeffLebowski(953 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

The notion of "low-paying" is relative at best, considering one could buy a house in Youngstown for less than $10k it would seem that making just over $20k per year isn't all that bad, no?

In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king, Jenny.

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6Yatrix(5 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Union guys are a$$holes. Organize another strike, monkey.

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7Ytownboy(142 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

$10 an hour call center jobs are the best we're going to get.

You can't make a living and support a family on $10 on hour, even in Youngstown.

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8Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Jay, Excellent work getting these jobs for the city ! Now we need to set up some work crews to work on the infrastructure in the city with some stimulus grants .

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9JeffLebowski(953 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

My point exactly, Jenny; why then would you expect "high paying jobs" to be found in the same place? Attaining new jobs from companies new to the area is the first step to urban renewal, a process with a long-life cycle and beset with no roadblock greater than lack of buy-in from people who live in the city in question.

My compliments to those who help made this happen.

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10cambridge(3013 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

It's amazing how everyone was thrilled with the $7.00 an hour jobs Wal-Mart was offering and now $10 to $15 dollar an hour jobs are criticised????

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11TB(1167 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Hey, a job is a job...but I don't know that this qualifies as a home run, and I'm usually right behind Tim Ryan and Jay Williams. I wonder what the benefits package is like.

Regarding the five years...it still doesn't seem a long time to me. It'd be nice to have something with more permanence.

"The notion of "low-paying" is relative at best, considering one could buy a house in Youngstown for less than $10k it would seem that making just over $20k per year isn't all that bad, no?"

Jeff's gonna move to Y-town and take one of these jobs then, right?

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12JeffLebowski(953 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Let's not get crazy here, TB. Besides, my career has slowed down somewhat...

Good question about the benefits, I wondered that as well.

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13Lifes2Short(3877 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

It's a start. It's at least something in this tough times. I can't understand the negativity. Who know's maybe other businesses will start looking into Youngstown. You get a positive and turn it into a negative. This is amazing and sad.

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14DoctorGonzo(728 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

You are debating a story that should have been news back in the early 1980's, not 25 years later.
No leadership, no foresight, no brains, no logic, no heart, and plenty of apathy have left Youngstown in the hole.
Throw in a ridiculous local tax rate for individual income, corruption, and an environment where wild animals run the zoo because of political beliefs, and you have a grade A sh** hole.

In ten years, you will all be debating the same issues.

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15TB(1167 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

It's not negativity to wonder why a $10 an hour job with likely little to no benefits is a home run. I wonder what a grand slam is

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16Lifes2Short(3877 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

I would say a "Grand Slam" would be that other companies or businesses seeing Youngstown at least start building up for the future, whether it's low paying jobs or call centers or walmarts it's at least a start in the right direction.... and who knows what this might bring..... you have to think with a open mind and try to focus on the future instead of dwelling on the past, the past is over, why is it that people don't seem to understand that concept? It's gone, what happened, happened! Move on, look ahead....build for the future, and if you can't believe in that and want to dwell in the past, then leave, move out of the area, go somewhere that's paradise..... all everyone does is complain....well do something and leave....

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17Lifes2Short(3877 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Well maybe thinking positive won't bring a large biotech company or new research center, or better jobs then walmarts or call centers, but will make you feel good about yourself and maybe have a brighter outlook on life, which you can give to your children or if you have no children then the people who love you, but you should really consider thinking about a brighter future then a gloomy one....believe me, it makes a difference in your life and everyone around you.....at least think about it....can't hurt any.....and actually will make life a little pleasant in these times.....

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18Lifes2Short(3877 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

and JennyChan - about the Battery plant in Detroit, read the Detroit Free Press and then the comments: I apologize for the couple of upcoming posts, but see what there residents are saying, here are a few examples: (so you see, even though they received a new battery facility, there are still issues)

I was just wondering why you mention that this facility will bring 100 jobs but you don't tell the readers that those jobs won't go to any regular folks. What I mean is there will be no chance for people to actually apply for these jobs. GM will either take existing employees who are laid off or they will give job applications to "referrals", you know, the "My Dad works at GM, that's how I got in." types.I have been trying to find a way to apply for an hourly job for years. I go to the plant, I call Labor Relations, I email the companies, I go through staffing firms and nothing, no jobs. I think all three of the domestics would be better off letting the public apply to their jobs instead using cronyism. I think it would help their public images too. Maybe you should report how people are tired of the family first hiring policies of the Detroit 3. I know I am.

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19Lifes2Short(3877 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

This will be the first hybrid battery production plant in the U.S. All the rest are in Asia presently, so they HAVE to buy from S. Korea until this plant is up and running (unless you want them to wait an entire extra year). It is a small start, but a rather signifciant one. Why do the people on here always seem to want to complain??? 100 jobs and a new facility in Michigan is better than NOT builing them here at all (which is an option). Is it going to make up for the hundreds of thousands of jobs lost? OF COURSE NOT...but it is a START. Take some anti-depressants will ya!

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20Lifes2Short(3877 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

http://www.freep.com/article/20090813...

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21cambridge(3013 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Lifes2Short....I couldn't agree with you more. Living a life of negativity is a waste of energy. People need to enjoy the good in their lives and stop whining. If you feel that living in the valley puts you in a negative place just leave.

You can Google anything: where's the jobs, where's the opportunities, where the white women? Don't just sit there and wait for a knock on your door. Go out and make it happen.

If you think any job is beneath you there's no reason to bad mouth it. Someone else might love that opportunity so why should you be putting it down. There could be a situation where one spouse has a good job with benefits and an extra 20-30 thousand a year might do wonders for a family in the valley. If companies see others move to the valley and are successful it might be just the thing to encourage another company to do the same.

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22Lifes2Short(3877 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Ianacek and cambridge, finally comments that actually make alot of sense....

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23LieDetector(27 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Wat to go Jay!!!!!! Guess all the years of service to ouyr fair city finally paid off!!!! Now you can go to Disney world for a well earned rest.....whew!!!! As long as you produce a few jobs every couple of years....hell what more can a man do. Certainly not travel aroung the country EVERY DAY to canvass and bring more jobs here instead of doing as much facetime as possible and over inflate the significance of even a handful of jobs. But being in charge of one of the most depressed cities in the country with low expectations and always running unimposed cause people expect it to be this way does have its merits.Kudos and the best of luck in the next election. In a city with the heavy weights of Ryan and wilson....how can we fail???

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24Lifes2Short(3877 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

JennyChan then move, your a accountant and you should find a job easy in another city and maybe make more then you do now. I like to think positive, and look for a brighter future, and see a start in the right direction, whether it's low paying jobs or whatever, but I don't hide my head in the sand and I know the economic situation and such, here and all over the world, but it's better to look at the positives in life then the bad, there is nothing wrong with that and more people should try it, because no matter what people say or how much they put you down for it, I just smile and wish them a better life, for noone can break me down and give in to the hatred and gloomy world people have....It's your choice how you perceive life and I'm happy and tranquil in mine. Are You?

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25cambridge(3013 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Jenny....Your an accountant. Congratulations. You can use a calculator and put numbers in columns. I've read you posts in the past and noted you putting down auto workers and and the like who have occupations that don;t require a degree.

At least those people can point to something and say I made that, I fixed that, I caught that criminal, I fought that fire, I built that bridge and on and on. You can say I put those numbers in that column and somehow you think that makes you better than someone else. Actually your a joke.

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26JeffLebowski(953 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Also Jenny, perhaps you weren't aware but the Mahoning Valley doesn't appear in the brochure advertising places with "high expectations." Lots of reasons for that which I won't delve into here but let's be realistic. We're not talking about the Silicon Valley. If you're looking for puppy dogs, ice cream and rainbows I think you might be in the wrong place.

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27steelerman09(111 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Neither Tim Ryan or Jay Williams had anything to do with this deal, so don't let that fool you people.

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28steelerman09(111 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Layoff "Protectors" like cops, etc, and bring in telemarketers and call centers. Makes perfect sense...(what a freaking joke)

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29JeffLebowski(953 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Jenny-your argument is invalid.

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30Lifes2Short(3877 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

If someone told you, you have only a few more months to live, would you change your atittude? (thus the name Lifes2Short). I have to say that living for today and looking for a bright future far outweighs the negativity. There is nothing wrong with it. Forget the past and bring a brighter future for you and everyone that loves you. When you turn to ashes in your final resting place, wouldn't it be nice that people thought of you has a positive influence in there life instead of a depressing, gloomy person? We are but just a little grain of sand in this World, and wouldn't it be better for once in your life, to be happy and enjoy the precious moments we have while were here? If I made one person change there thinking, then I'm very happy. I really pray that Youngstown turns out to be a happy and wonderful place to call home, and on a side note, well not in my time, but that the Pirates win a world series. <smile>
Well I have to move on now, but remember, you can make a huge difference in your life if you just make life happy. God Bless
and remember - Life is 2 Short

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31ecklyn(4 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Right on HarleyDog...He knows what he's talking about. I used to work for the other call center in town (Niles) and they also have a similar revolving door problem. Call centers sound good when there's nothing else coming to town, but they aren't really the solution...just a bandaid that falls off when it gets wet...or in 5 years.

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32TB(1167 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

thanks for making the next point I was going to make harley. the turnover at these places is indeed very high. it's a job, not a career. we need careers.

like I said before, a job is a job and that's great...but it's not someplace someone is going to retire from.

the point someone made about already having call centers and wal-marts in the area, yet the poor economic conditions persisting was a great point also.

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33Woody(452 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

This call center is going to pay $10 per hour, that is $20,400 Annually, the average household income for Y-town is around $25k per year. So if you get bot the husband and wife, or for Youngstown, a man and his baby's mama working there, you are almost at double the average income for the city. Seems pretty good to me.

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34TB(1167 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Are you going to work there then woody?

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35JeffLebowski(953 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

I take no pleasure in saying this but if you are career-minded individual Youngstown is not the place for you...yet. New business OF ANY KIND is a necessary starting point for the area to make it possible to truly say "yet." Talk about lack of retirement for employees when companies aren't eager to do business in the area to begin with is just senseless; I'd liken this to someone dying of thirst in the desert when another comes by with an offer of water that is promptly turned down because the water lacks ice cubes.

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36shadowman(67 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Youngstown has been called many things throughout the years. Little Chicago, steeltown, and other names related to mafia. However, we can now be called "Call Center City." How many of these places are we going to have? And why are these places always hiring? The answer is because no one wants to work there, especially after they get the job and find out what it is. The ad states up to $10 hr. That means no one is going to make $10 hr, more likely to start at min wage. These jobs are stop-gap jobs, or for people looking to get off welfare. This is nothing that is going to provide for a family. TB is right, we need career jobs here, jobs people can actually retire from. What will they be? Or a better question is will we ever get jobs like that to come to the valley?

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37Search4Answers(726 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

No career jobs will ever come to the valley until the area can finally give up its antibusiness platform and lower taxes.

I have a new name for Youngstown, Little India... The location of the call center business doesn't matter so they just go to where the cheapest labor is with people who have no hope for any other jobs.

I guess a job's a job but wouldn't it be better if we could get like a chase bank regional headquarters, P&G or a company like Nationwide to locate in youngstown. Those are the the type of jobs that youngstown in particular needs desperately.

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38JeffLebowski(953 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

My appreciation for the ability to deductively reason is reinforced everytime I visit this website. Stay classy, Y-town.

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39Woody(452 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

TB,

I will not go to work there. It would be a significant pay cut for me. A few years back and I would have jumped all over the $10 per hour job. I actually did. I worked my way up and into other areas.

But, when I look at people compaining about a $10 per hour job when THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE. I say be greatful that someone with the means wants to give the people of the valley a shot. $10 per hour is $10 more per hour then $0 per hour.

For people working at McDonald's it might be a good next step in their professional careers.

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40TB(1167 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Understandable

Looking at the parable given about ice cubes/water/the desert, there's another way to examine this through that lens.

If you present one cup of water to a thirsty man, a cloudy cup full of sediment, he'll drink it because he's thirsty. If you offer him that same glass next to a nice, clear glass of spring water, he'll choose the latter.

Wouldn't it be nice to have a choice?

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41JeffLebowski(953 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

TB-your analogy isn't lost on me but even if there were more companies offering higher-paying jobs in the valley job candidates don't get a "choice." As a viable job candidate you must meet qualifications for positions of greater responsibility and higher compensation; an entry-level worker simply wouldn't effectively vie for the same caliber jobs as someone with education and/or experience, nor should they.

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42TB(1167 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Jeff, I get that. It's a great point. It does not address the idea of underemployment (which we know is alive and well in the valley, as we've seen the brain drain phenomenon documented here in the Vindy.) It's hard to find data documenting it because it's a relative new and amorphic concept to try to quantify.

It'd be nice to see college grads able to use their skills in the area. I personally know a few who are simply unable to find jobs in their area, because the jobs are so scarce or don't exist anymore. Relocation or taking a job they are overqualified for are the choices left.

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43JeffLebowski(953 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Very true. Underemployment can't be addressed by new employers opening for business until: a.) the area is proven to be a safe place to live and work in the minds of potentially incumbent business leaders (this is currently debatable at best) and b.) seemingly ancillary issues like lack of adequate public transportation are addressed.

In short, many things need to happen to make the area appear to be a viable place for new and established companies to do business -- new businesses of any kind are at least a step in the right direction.

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44TB(1167 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

So you'd say the way to look at this is a stepping stone to a brighter future then? If so, I can agree with that.

Would you agree this is a "home run?"

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45JeffLebowski(953 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

I might call it a base hit but for the city any chance to increase tax revenue is a home run right now.

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46shadowman(67 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Jeff I agree that new businesses in this area is a step in the right direction. But another call center? Believe it or not these jobs are a dime a dozen. If you look in the Vindy want ads on Sunday, which is a sorry sight to begin with, Infocision has 10 ads in there. They are always hiring, and so is West. People that desperately need a job quit these. And they pay around minimum wage, not the advertised $10 hr. Certain goals must be met to get to $10. We are in a state of anything is better than nothing. But another call center? I just can't get up and cheer about it. How about safe on base by an error?

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47leaveusalone(103 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Nice that another business is locating here - but some questions - since this company has historically operated MULTI-LINGUAL call centers, is that what's coming here? If so, will those jobs be hard to fill? How many local people are sufficiently fluent in another language? And will those who are be willing to work for this level of wage? Or is this particular branch of the company going to be different from their others?

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48Woody(452 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

I would call this a ground rule double. Puts a runner in scoring position.

From looking at there site, this company does not seem to be another Infocision (telemarketing firm).

VXI from their website appears to be an outsourced technology provider company. The incoming calls likely will be of a technical nature. It will likely be a great first step for a recent grad from ITT Tech or YSU Associate Information Technology grads.

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49JeffLebowski(953 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

First off companies don't have just one, multi-lingual call center -- they have multiple call centers, only one of which would likely be located in Y-town. Tech/customer service support is an increasingly more prevalent business and will continue to thrive, tough to argue against that. The metro area in which I live is home to no fewer than 12-15 companies with call centers to include a number of banks, HR organizations through which employment/financial information can be acquired (for employees to get pre-auth for home/auto loans), state and local government agencies, etc. One or two companies 10 years ago have blossomed into the current number and many, many people and their families reap the benefits.

Still a base hit in my opinion.

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50abtech(48 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

It's a good start, or effort, and DEFINTELY better than nothing.

I like when things get done, and not when fists are shaken and towels are thrown in on Youngstown, ya know?

There is a mighty loooong way to go, but this is a start.

We need better leaders though, leaders that are not simply "good-enough-for-Mahoning Valley" but leaders who would be able to manage ANY city.

Also, $10 an hour is a relatively good wage. Good for students, younger people (18-24) who have yet to get into career, and since these are the main groups in the crime stats, it provides a REASONABLE and PRACTICAL alternative to crime...in particular ECONOMIC CRIME...

I don't think anyone is touting this as the "savior" to our abismal economy though.

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51blkpride(186 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Come check out some of the best metal bands from this area! Food, art vendors and Rust Belt Beer!

Where: 530 Mahoning Ave. Youngstown, OH 44502 @ The B&O Station
When: Aug 22nd starting @ noon

Bands: Thunder Struck
Sunset Riot
Smack Alice
Sonic Age
Turbo Lovers

http://www.myspace.com/therustfest

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