September 7, 2012

T-Mobile adding 100 jobs to its Oakland call center

By Matt Hongoltz-Hetling
Staff Writer

OAKLAND -- The T-Mobile call center plans to hire more than 100 full-time employees by the end of the year, starting with a job fair next week, the company announced Friday.

The push for new workers will add to an ongoing hiring effort of several months, according to Kim Lindlof, president of the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce.

"They can't hire them fast enough," Lindlof said. "It's wonderful."

The positions, described as customer service and sales representatives, are advertised at a pay rate of between $11.73 and $13.95 per hour with additional benefits.

The workforce expansion is because of increased call volume, according to company spokeswoman Patty Raz.

The Oakland call center was chosen because it is one of the best performing centers in the country, she said.

The current staff -- which she said numbers more than 400, some of whom are being promoted -- would supervise the new workers. She would not provide additional information.

About a year ago, the call center was criticized by former employees and unions, who charged that it had laid off about 300 workers. At the time, the company cited a workforce total of 520.

The job fair is Thursday at the call center on First Park Drive. The company said applicants can learn more about the positions, tour the center, interview and take a skills assessment test.

In 2005, T-Mobile first announced that it intended to create 700 jobs in the area and invest $17 million to create the call center.

In 2011, a report from the governor's office showed that the workforce had grown from 422 in 2005 to 781 in 2010.

According to the governor's report, T-Mobile received $2.9 million in tax breaks between 2005 and 2010 because of its location in the "Pine Tree Zone," where employers receive partial property tax refunds based on the number of employees they have. It received another $560,000 to help train workers.

The call center is in FirstPark, a 285-acre business park in the Pine Tree Zone. FirstPark was created in 2000 with investments from 24 member towns to promote regional economic development. Officials have said the goal is to have 3,000 jobs. The current job total is approximately 1,000.

First Park member towns are Anson, Benton, Canaan, China, Clinton, Cornville, Fairfield, Farmingdale, Gardiner, Hartland, Manchester, Norridgewock, Oakland, Palmyra, Pittsfield, Readfield, Rome, St. Albans, Sidney, Smithfield, Solon, Starks, Waterville and Winslow.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling -- 861-9287

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