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Partnership seeks to bring 200 jobs to Youngstown

Published: 11/20/13 @ 12:00


By TOM MCPARLAND

tmcparland@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Representatives from VXI Global Solutions and Western Union launched a partnership that has brought 200 jobs to Youngstown and has the potential to add “hundreds” more in the coming months.

Agents for VXI will provide customer assistance to Western Union customers and employees using the financial-services company’s money-transfer and loyalty programs, marking the first time the two companies have teamed up in the United States.

It also is the first time that Western Union has invested domestically in customer-service workers, representatives said.

“Until recently, Western Union’s customer-service operations have all been offshore, and [we] just felt there was an important need to bring some of those jobs back to the States and to be able to improve our customer-service experience,” said Stacy Sam, senior manager of vender services for Western Union.

“It’s an opportunity for us to show Western Union what the city of Youngstown has to offer,” said Tobias Parrish, vice president of U.S. operations for VXI, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday on the fourth floor of 20 Federal Place on West Federal Street downtown.

VXI has been expanding in Youngstown since the company first established offices in the city-owned building in 2009, growing from 100 employees in the city to about 1,000. And the contract with Western Union has the potential to create more jobs, company representatives acknowledged.

“The growth potential is definitely there,” said Stuart Foster, VXI director of operations, who works with Western Union and oversees the program in Youngstown. “Our initial launch was really going to be about 100 agents, and they asked us to double that within 30 days.”

Sam agreed, saying that as the partnership continues to grow, Western Union expects the operation to include “a few hundred more people.”

City Finance Director David Bozanich was on hand to praise both companies and express the city’s continued support. He said the partnership was consistent with the city’s goal to compete for jobs that had been outsourced to places such as the Philippines.

The city gained control of the Federal Street building in 2004, according to the Mahoning County auditor’s website. At that time, occupancy was below 10 percent, but with structural and cosmetic investments from the city, he estimated occupancy has risen to a current level of about 75 or 80 percent.

VXI, he said, has been instrumental in the building’s success, expanding its workforce and occupying space on the second floor and establishing recruiting offices in the lobby. The company also has been looking at the sixth floor for additional room, according to Parrish.

“We’re going to continue to support these guys,” Bozanich said, hoping that VXI’s growth will translate to more jobs for Youngstown residents.

“For all the reasons why people are here in the first place, we think that we can expand that story to get people from other places to look and say, ‘Hey, maybe we should be in Youngstown,’” he said.