June 07--Springfield appears to be in the running for a new call center that would employ 300 full-time workers.
Three executives with Firstsource, headquartered in India and with offices in the United States, toured the former Waremart grocery store on the corner of Centennial and Mohawk boulevards on May 28. They were joined by property owner and developer Steven Yett, his broker, and city and state officials.
Banks, credit card companies, hospitals and insurance companies hire Firstsource to perform a variety of work, including processing insurance claims and credit card transactions and handling collections.
It serves more than 100 customers worldwide, including Fortune 500 companies and eight of the top 10 U.S. credit card issuers, according to its website.
Last year, the company reported more than 31,000 employees worldwide and $517 million in revenues, the website said.
John Tamulonis, who attended the tour as the city's community development manager, said he was told the company also was looking at two other sites -- one in Corvallis and another in an undisclosed Willamette Valley location.
Firstsource has many locations around the United States, but the closest to Oregon is an office in the San Francisco Bay Area in California. An Oregon call center would add to a network that includes India, Ireland, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom.
Tamulonis said company representatives gave no timeline for the potential opening of a new call center in Oregon. He said brokers told him the center could hire 300 employees, all full time.
Last month, Firstsource announced that a new 44,000-square-foot call center in Louisville, Ky., would hire 300 full-time workers. The Springfield location is more than 48,000 square feet, according to property records.
Despite the prospects, Tamulonis kept his enthusiasm in check. He noted two other firms have toured the property in recent years without moving forward.
"I don't know how far it's going," he said of this latest inquiry.
A broker for Colliers International, Firstsource's real estate agent, said he was traveling and unavailable for comment Friday. Yett and his broker didn't return phone messages and emails seeking comment Friday.
Yett bought the 11-acre shopping center in October 2008. He has said he plans to remodel the building when he finds a suitable tenant.
Lane County Commissioner Sid Leiken, whose district includes Springfield, was invited on the tour but he was unable to attend.
Leiken said Firstsource's inquiry could be more good news on the heels of the recent announcement of McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center's$80 million upgrade and expansion. The hospital is three blocks south of the building Firstsource is checking out.
"That would be a huge boost for Mohawk," said Leiken, a former Springfield mayor.
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