The Leaf-Chronicle (Clarksville, Tennessee)
BYLINE: By, Jimmy Settle
Montgomery County’s newest corporate citizen will officially begin business Oct. 29, company officials said Monday after a news conference in which it was announced that Agero is indeed coming to town.
Agero has selected Clarksville over Florence, S.C., for an $8.2 million roadside assistance call center that will create a total of 500 jobs, with 250 of those employees to be hired this year and the remainder in 2013. Agero’s Gary Wallace previously told The Leaf-Chronicle the 500 new workers here will earn an average of $10 an hour.
Monday’s announcement at the 58,000-square-foot office building that Agero will occupy off of Rossview Road near Exit 8 of Interstate 24 ends months of speculation about the project. Agero, based in Medford, Mass., had been heavily courted by the Clarksville-Montgomery County Industrial Development Board.
“It’s been a long site search … (about 16 months), but we started to home in on this facility in Clarksville over time,” said Sandra Savage, Agero’s vice president of Human Resources. Company President Dave Ferrick added that the people from Clarksville who showed up for a job fair Agero hosted earlier this year really helped sell Agero on the city. He and Savage cited the “sincerity and passion” that Clarksville’s potential labor force brings to the job.
“We were just overwhelmed by the turnout from our job fair here,” Ferrick said. “The quality of the people … and the collaboration we experienced from everyone here to get this done is what really sold us on Clarksville.”
The availability of a new office building solidified Agero’s decision.
Now, Agero is accepting job applications, and Clarksville applicants can send resumes to email@example.com Applicants who participated in the Agero job fair in Clarksville do not need to reapply.
James Chavez, president and CEO of the city-county Economic Development Council, said this project ranks high on the EDC’s list of business recruitment achievements, for the number of jobs created and that it represents one of the EDC’s target industry sectors for Clarksville-Montgomery County.
Chavez credits IDB Executive Director Mike Evans and the entire IDB/EDC team, along with County Mayor Carolyn Bowers and Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillan, whom he said “were very actively engaged in negotiations and kept us in the game.
“Agero selecting Clarksville-Montgomery County as its next location is exciting news for our ever-growing community,” Chavez said. “One of the key factors that helped support their location decision was Agero’s ability to visit with job seekers and create a strong understanding of our qualified and available work force.”
Agero is regarded as a global leader in driver assistance services and “vehicle connectivity innovation.” Clarksville will mark the company’s sixth North American driver assistance call and data response center. It will occupy what has been a speculative office building the IDB built at 2971 International Blvd. in the Corporate Business Park.
In a news release, Agero CEO Michael A. Saxton said 21 communities in the Southeast and Midwest were considered before Clarksville got the final nod.
The Clarksville center will incorporate “state-of-the-art contact center technology,” according to Saxton, and will be comparable in size to Agero’s other five response centers, in Medford, Mass.; Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada; Irving, Texas; Tucson, Ariz.; and Sebring, Fla.
The new operation in Clarksville is projected within its first year to handle more than 2 million calls annually from drivers across the country requesting roadside assistance. Agero is one of the largest providers of roadside assistance in the U.S. and Canada, with a network of more than 30,000 providers serving a customer base of 75 million vehicle owners through plans provided by about 30 insurance carriers and 20 automobile manufacturers as well as clients in the vehicle fleet and credit card industries.
“Working for Agero isn’t simply answering a customer phone call. It entails responding to a motorist’s plea for help, often in a situation when they are under duress at the side of a road or under a time constraint. Car problems never occur when it’s convenient,” said Robert M. Camacho, Agero’s vice president of Contact Center Operations, who has oversight for all of Agero’s contact centers.
Agero is slated to occupy the new Clarksville building by Oct. 15, and there will be a period of staff training prior to the launch of operations about 14 days later.
As Montgomery County continues to battle an 8 percent unemployment rate, Bowers and McMillan both termed Monday an “exciting” day for the community, after a long wait – a wait that made the announcement all the sweeter. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam additionally welcomed Agero in a news release, saying the company is part of the state’s economic development strategy in a “business services” recruitment cluster that includes call centers.
“We are extremely pleased that Agero has chosen to join our business community,” Bowers said in prepared comments. “They have a long-standing reputation for quality service and will offer good job opportunities to the citizens of Montgomery County.
“I want to congratulate our economic development team who, once again, proved what cooperation and teamwork can do,” McMillan said. “Bringing new jobs and a developing industry to our area is certainly good for our citizens, and I know that Agero will find a willing, able, dedicated and extremely talented work force in Clarksville.”
Officials worked for many months on incentives to attract Agero to Clarksville. In March it was announced that the IDB had sweetened the deal.
Chiefly, the IDB added a $125,000 Job Creation cash grant to be applied by Agero for startup-related costs and employee training. The EDC’s private Aspire Foundation is to fund $35,000 of the grant.
“Agero’s announcement is a prime example of the value the Economic Development Council, the Industrial Development Board, the Aspire Foundation and our city and county leadership place on aggressively recruiting new jobs for our community and creating an incentives model that fits the requirements for incoming industries,” said Linda Rudolph, IDB chairman, in prepared comments.
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