News Column

Verizon Expected to Add Jobs in Tulsa

Jan 18, 2013

John Stancavage

Verizon is scheduled to make a major economic development announcement at its Tulsa facility Friday morning.

Company officials and Gov. Mary Fallin are expected to announce that Verizon is adding a significant number of jobs locally. The telecommunications company now operates a customer service center at Cherokee Industrial Park, 6929 N. Lakewood Ave., as well as retail stores.

New York-based Verizon Communications Inc. has about 900 employees in Tulsa and almost 300 more statewide. It operates 50 retail stores throughout Oklahoma.

The Governor's Office and the Tulsa Regional Chamber were tight-lipped about the announcement Thursday. Fallin's presence at the press conference, which is planned for 10 a.m. at the Cherokee Industrial Park, was thought to indicate that the number of new jobs could be large.

Others expected to attend the event include Verizon Vice President-South Area Michelle Robinson, Oklahoma Department of Commerce Executive Director Jonna Kirschner and Tulsa Regional Chamber President Mike Neal.

If the expansion occurs at the Cherokee Industrial Park, it would continue that property's success in recent decades. Development got going at the park in the mid-1980s when Telex Computer Products built a facility there.

Telecommunications provider WorldCom purchased the former Telex facility in 1995 and expanded it to about 1 million square feet. WorldCom and MCI Communications merged in 1997. MCI, in turn, was acquired by Verizon in 2006.

Other major employers today at Cherokee Industrial Park include NORDAM, Capital One and Whirlpool.

Verizon's history as an employer in Oklahoma got off to a rocky start, although it also established the business as a stand-up firm.

As part of acquiring MCI, Verizon inherited a hiring agreement between MCI and then-Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson.

Edmondson had filed 15 criminal charges against WorldCom, which collapsed in scandal and filed for bankruptcy protection in July 2002.

In exchange for the dismissal of those charges, MCI pledged to create 1,600 jobs at an average salary of $35,000 each over 10 years. MCI also agreed to waive $15.4 million in state Quality Jobs incentives.

If MCI failed to live up to its obligations, it agreed to pay substantial penalties.

After acquiring MCI, Verizon elected to pay $560,000 in fines in 2006 and $840,000 in 2007.

Verizon employed about 2,000 people in the state shortly after its takeover of MCI. Two years later, in tough business conditions, the number had dropped to about 1,500.

Source: (c)2013 Tulsa World (Tulsa, Okla.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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