500 call center jobs could be coming to W’burg
A large call center company is apparently looking to open a facility in the Williamsburg area provided that it can find a sufficient regional workforce.
The company, which local officials aren’t identifying, could employee up to 500 people. and would pay between $10.50 – 15 per hour. Both full-time and part-time positions will be available, if it locates here.
Williamsburg leaders are currently circulating “labor recruitment surveys” or unofficial job applications for the perspective company.
Williamsburg Mayor Roddy Harrison noted that first and foremost, job seekers will need to be able to pass a drug test and a background check.
“If you can’t pass a drug screen then don’t even come by. If you can’t pass a drug test then don’t download the survey,” Harrison noted. “This is a life choice situation. Do you want to do that or do you want to work? … These are nice paying jobs.”
Secondly, the company needs people, who can provide references to attest to their good work ethic. In other words, it needs people, who will show up for work when they are supposed to be there, Harrison said.
Harrison said that he has been working alongside Whitley County Judge-Executive Pat White Jr., Knox County Judge-Executive J.M. Hall, Corbin Economic Development Director Bruce Carpenter and several other people to recruit the company to the area.
“There were several of us in a meeting with the company. The company wants to come to Williamsburg. They want to open a facility here in Williamsburg and they have said there are 500 jobs,” Harrison said. “They basically kind of turned to us and said, ‘can you fill 500 positions?’
After being told by local officials that they were sure 500 positions could be filled, then the company asked for help to get the word out so they could see exactly how many people were willing to apply for the jobs.
Unofficial job applications
Harrison said at that point, local leaders decided to put together a “labor survey” to gather information for the company.
In addition to asking for the candidate’s name, telephone number and email address, the labor survey asks whether applicants have been charged, arrested or convicted of a crime, if they have student loans in default, owe back child support, are in default on any federal loans or owe any past due medical bills.
The labor survey indicates that the company’s contract requires an extensive federal background screening and credit check.
A copy of the survey is available at Williamsburg City Hall, and on the city’s website at http://williamsburgky.com/.
The Whitley County Fiscal Court is also advertising the surveys and they can be printed by clicking on a link of the county’s website at http://www.whitleycountyfiscalcourt.com/.
Anyone with questions about the survey can call Williamsburg City Hall at 549-6033.
Workshop planned Jan. 11-12
A labor recruitment survey workshop will be held at the Williamsburg Tourism and Convention Center on Jan. 11-12 from 3 – 7 p.m.
Harrison said that would be applicants don’t have to attend the workshop either day.
Harrison said that there will be labor surveys at the workshop that people can fill out, and they can drop off their surveys on those days.
He added that people can also pick up a survey at city hall, or print one off of the city’s website, and drop it off at city hall prior to the workshops.
Harrison said that he plans to contact the company and hopes to be able to answer some questions that prospective job applicants might have.
Harrison said that he would love to have 1,000 surveys to take to the company from qualified applicants.
Harrison added that he isn’t just looking for people from Williamsburg to apply for these jobs, but would also like to see applicants from surrounding counties like, Knox, Bell, McCreary and Laurel County in addition to people from Jellico and Campbell County, Tennessee.
“We aren’t just talking about just the city of Williamsburg. That is where the facility is going to be, but we are going to draw people from everywhere,” Harrison said. “We are wanting to compile a huge number of people, who are number one wanting a job, so we can go back to this company and say we can fill those jobs. Now come to Williamsburg and open up.”
Harrison said that he is “very optimistic” the call center will locate here.
Harrison added that the economy in this area hasn’t really picked up despite the recession supposedly being over, and that “500 jobs would be a real nice shot in the arm for us.”
Drug problem an issue
Harrison noted that the drug problem in the area is the reason the company is asking whether there are 500 job seekers that can fill these 500 positions.
“I’m not saying anything anyone doesn’t already know or say,” he added. “You go to every place in town and they will say they can’t keep people because of the drug situation.”
Harrison said that sometimes he thinks the drug problem overshadows the good in the community, which is we have plenty of people that want to work at nice paying jobs.
Harrison likened the situation to his teaching days when you would have a class with five troublemakers, who caused problems every day.
The class would get the reputation for being a problem class due to the five bad students, even though there were 20 students in the class, who did everything that was asked of them.
He added that the area’s drug stigma is a lot like the bad class example where there are far more good people than bad ones.
“I feel like we have so many good people that want to work. This will give those people an opportunity,” he added.
Little known about company
Harrison said that there isn’t much he can say about the company in question, except this will be a call center and that the company has multiple federal contracts.
“I’m not sure exactly what the contracts are,” Harrison said. “These are not jobs that are going to be here for six months and gone. We have been assured there is enough work for a ‘long period of time.’ How long that is, I don’t know. I hope it is years and years and years.”
Harrison said that he is not at liberty to say where the call center would be located.
“We have a facility that is ready for them to move into. With that said, I think people can probably figure it out,” he noted.
One of the most likely locations for a business of this nature in Williamsburg would be the former CSC office, which was located at Cumberland Regional Mall inside the old Wal-Mart.