Telus International, a branch of a Canadian telecommunications company, is opening a call center in Las Vegas that is expected to add 1,000 jobs to the local economy over the next five years.
The company plans to open in March with 100 employees, expanding to 500 workers by the end of the year.
Telus, which wants to expand its Spanish-language services, picked Las Vegas because of the availability of tech-savvy bilingual workers, company President Jeff Puritt said Thursday.
The Las Vegas Redevelopment Agency offered incentives and demographic information that helped Las Vegas stand out from the 47 cities considered for the call center.
The agency will provide $300,000 annually for five years for equipment and building improvements.
In exchange, 25 percent of the workers must be from the city’s redevelopment area, which includes almost all of downtown, parts of neighborhoods immediately west of Interstate 15 and a corridor along Eastern Avenue from Charleston Boulevard to Owens Avenue.
The city’s redevelopment plan will have to be changed to accommodate the agreement because the Telus site at Sahara Avenue and Decatur Boulevard is not within the boundaries of Las Vegas’ redevelopment area.
"State law allows expenditure of RDA funds outside the RDA," Scott Adams, the city’s director of redevelopment, said Thursday.
The agreement with Telus "is predicated on the amendment of our redevelopment plan," he said.
That plan is being challenged by the Culinary union, which is arguing that redevelopment efforts channel tax money away from schools and other uses.
Union spokeswoman Pilar Weiss said the employment requirement allows the city to "rationalize" giving money to the project.
"That’s a pretty incredible stretch," she said.
The call center jobs will pay around $25,000 annually. Management positions would pay about twice that, and candidates are already in line for them, a company spokesman said.
"We’ve drafted out an agreement that meets the very necessity that everyone is talking about today, from the White House all the way down to Fremont Street, and that is jobs," Mayor Oscar Goodman said. "There is nothing more important than that."
The operation will be Telus’ first U.S.-based call center, Puritt said.
Las Vegas was once a popular spot for call centers, said Somer Hollingsworth of the Nevada Development Authority.
Many of the jobs went overseas for cheaper labor, but companies are finding that non-native English speakers struggle with accents and colloquialisms.
"It may be a revival of call centers," Hollingsworth said. "They hire a lot of people."
Telus’ clients include electronics and energy companies, utilities and financial services firms.
The company has 34,000 workers worldwide, with locations in Singapore, the Philippines, British Columbia, Canada, and Seoul, South Korea.
Contact reporter Alan Choate at email@example.com or 702-229-6435.CENTER SEEKS JOB APPLICANTS Those interested in applying to work at Telus International’s new call center should send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. The company plans to hire 100 people initially and open in March, and it expects to hire 500 people by the end of the year. Company officials said they are particularly interested in people who speak both Spanish and English.