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VOL. 129 | NO. 15 | Thursday, January 23, 2014

Jobs Explosion

Conduit Global call center to create 1,000 jobs

By Amos Maki

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Conduit Global will hire 1,000 people over the next three to five years to staff a large call center in Shelby County, the company announced Wednesday, Jan. 22.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam joined state and local government leaders, Greater Memphis Chamber officials, and representatives of Conduit Global at the jobs announcement at FedExForum Wednesday, Jan. 22.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

Conduit Global president Bryce Hayes said the New York-based company will start hiring 300 immediately for the $8 million call center serving Verizon.

Hayes joined Gov. Bill Haslam, Greater Memphis Chamber officials, and other state and local government leaders during a morning news conference in the lobby of FedExForum, beneath the grand marquee that read “New Jobs for TN.”

“In today’s economic climate when a company is willing to make an investment and add four digits worth of new employees it is big news,” said Haslam, standing in front of a large screen that said “1,000 New Jobs.”

Counduit Global, which has 7,000 employees at 14 locations in nine countries, will initially lease 25,000 square feet at 7000 Goodlett Farms Parkway, a space that AT&T once used as a call center. The company has options to increase its presence at the office building as its workforce expands.

Hayes said Shelby County was chosen over two other cities because the available labor force, proximity to universities and technical schools and the cooperation offered by state and local governments.

“As a global call center company our focus is to try to find regions where we know we can attract talent and it was very clear to us that the Memphis area helped us to meet those goals,” Hayes said. “We were looking for strong technology, we were looking for infrastructure and we were looking for employees and as we start down the path of adding these 300 jobs we are absolutely certain and excited to know we expect to reach those targets as fast as we can. We will be hiring rapidly.”

People interested in a job with Conduit Global can find applications online now at www.conduitglobal.com.

Details on what types of incentives the city, county and state offered Conduit Global were not fully unveiled Wednesday morning. Hayes said the company could seek a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) incentive from the Economic Development Growth Engine of Memphis and Shelby County and that the state would provide incentives for infrastructure improvements and workforce training.

Counduit Global will have a wide range of available positions but most of the jobs will focus on call center operations, providing customer support for inbound and outbound customer calls, customer retention services, technical support and other back-office operations.

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, right, is joined by Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. in welcoming the news of up to 1,000 new jobs to the city.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

Wages will start at $9 an hour to $10 dollars an hour for lower level jobs and reach into six-figure salaries for management positions.

“This company will provide opportunities across a broad economic spectrum giving high school graduates to college graduates access to a variety of good paying jobs,” said Mark Herbison, senior vice president of economic development at the Greater Memphis Chamber.

Bill Hagerty, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner, praised Conduit Global for providing much-needed jobs in the Memphis area.

“I would like to congratulate the 1,000-plus families that will feel the benefit of this expansion,” Hagerty said. “Conduit, your presence is greatly, greatly appreciated here in our state and we look forward to seeing you grow even further.”

The secret recruitment of Conduit Global had been taking place behind the scenes for months, operating under the code name Project Moscow. State and Greater Memphis Chamber leaders worked closely with Conduit Global officials to find the right location and mix of incentives for the company.

“There was a lot of cooperation, particularly with the state,” said Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. “The Chamber kept both mayors apprised all along the way and that’s about as much as I’ll say.”

After Conduit Global notified state and local officials that it had selected Shelby County for the call center, the process gained steam.

“Things came together very quickly here now because they’re ready to hire,” Hagerty said.

Project Moscow’s 1,000 jobs would be one of the largest new job generators in Memphis in the last several years.

The $200 million Mitsubishi Power Products Inc. plant in Rivergate Industrial Park will eventually employ around 300 people. The $316 million expansion of the Kruger Products mill in North Memphis will create around 100 new jobs. Nike’s expansion in Frayser will create around 250 new jobs. Electrolux plans on employing around 1,200 people once its plant inside Frank C. Pidgeon Industrial Park reaches peak production.

“This is by far the most significant office project we’ve seen in my nine-year tenure here,” Herbison said. “It helps our real estate community, it makes our lease rates better, it makes our occupancy rates look better across the county and, like Electrolux and Mitsubishi did in the manufacturing field, it puts the word out that we’ve got big companies that could go anywhere in the world and they’re choosing to go to Memphis.”

Wharton neatly summed up the celebratory mood that permeated the announcement.

“Gov. Haslam, it is great,” said Wharton. “We have to do this more often.”

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