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Call Center Openings: Assurant Opens Oklahoma Facility

Assurant Group, Atlanta, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new contact center in Lawton, OK, late last month. The one-story, 36,000-square-foot facility has 150 employees and will eventually expand to 300 employees with an annual payroll of about $7 million. The center fields inbound sales and service calls for three major credit companies that offer Assurant insurance products. The facility can handle up to 5 million calls annually when fully operational. Plans for the center were first announced a year ago. Assurant is an affinity marketing company that offers insurance products through partnerships with financial and retail companies. It also operates call centers in Miami, Atlanta, Toronto and Grand Rapids, MI.

ICT Group, Langhorne, PA, will open a new call center next month in Carbonear, Newfoundland, and has announced further expansions to its Canadian workforce. The new Carbonear facility initially will be equipped with 140 workstations and is expected to employ 240 people in sales, quality assurance, training and operations management when fully staffed. The center will focus on customer relationship management sales applications for clients in the United States and Canada. Another facility in Miramichi, New Brunswick, which has been open since July 2000, will be expanded by 80 workstations and will hire an additional 90 employees. The Miramichi facility specializes in bilingual French-English sales and service. ICT Group, a teleservices agency, will have eight call centers in Canada as a result of the new additions. The company said it has found a pool of high-quality, cost-effective labor in the Canadian Maritime Provinces.

Stream International, Canton, MA, is planning the November opening of a 900-employee customer interaction center in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia. The company has a 10-year lease on the facility and received $12 million Canadian in assistance from government economic development programs to help launch the center. The location was chosen after initial contacts with the community revealed a large quantity of highly qualified potential employees, according to the company. Stream International, a customer relationship management provider, has 19 contact centers in 10 countries, employs more than 10,000 people and conducts about 40 million customer contacts annually.

StarTek, Denver, this month announced plans for a new teleservices facility in Kingston, Ontario. The 20,000-square-foot facility will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week and will employ 300 people. The call center is expected to be open “shortly” and will expand operations as the year progresses, becoming fully operational by year's end, the company said. The opening of the facility comes on the heels of the June opening of its first facility in Kingston, a 53,000-square-foot, 1,000-employee contact center. StarTek, a customer relationship management outsourcing agency, also is planning the opening of a 73,800-square-foot, 600-employee technical support and customer service contact center in Cornwall, Ontario, this fall.

Verizon Wireless, Bedminster, NJ, will open a call center in Cranberry Woods, PA, in October. About 200 customer service employees will be moved from the company's regional headquarters in Thorn Hill, PA, to the new call center, and the company will hire 300 new customer service employees for the call center in December and January. Over the next few years, another 300 employees will be hired for the new 107,000-square-foot call center, bringing its staffing complement up to its capacity of 800 employees. The facility will have four floors, a cafeteria and a fitness center and will house some human resource and training facilities. Verizon plans to hire an additional 180 new telephone sales agents for the Thorn Hill location as part of the expansion. The company has more than 900 employees in the Pennsylvania region and will increase to about 1,400 by next year.

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