Paducah and McCracken County officials gathered Tuesday to celebrate the 400 jobs that Colorado-based TeleTech Holdings is bringing to the area when they got some unexpected good news - an additional 150 new jobs.
Todd Baxter, senior vice president of operations for TeleTech, made the surprise announcement when he took his turn at the podium during an afternoon ribbon-cutting ceremony at the company's state-of-the-art call center in Paducah Commerce Park. Originally, TeleTech planned to hire 300 at the new location and an additional 100 employees in the old Commerce Center downtown, which will be remodeled.
"Our intention is to bring 550 new jobs all told," Baxter said, to an outburst of smiles and applause. "I thought I'd start with that."
Baxter said discussions with the client, a major insurance carrier, and an examination of the schedules and needed hours of operation led to the decision.
"Our plan has always been to support as many employees in the community as we could," Baxter said. "We'll have two shifts at least, and most likely be seven days, most definitely six."
Call center personnel will handle inbound calls from either service providers or policy holders.
Chad Chancellor, president/CEO of Paducah Economic Development, presided at Tuesday's proceedings.
"It takes a true partnership to build something like this," Chancellor said, noting the contributions of local and state officials, including Mayor Gayle Kaler, County Judge-Executive Van Newberry, and Dr. Barbara Veazey, president of West Kentucky Community & Technical College, which is providing logistical help and resources to TeleTech.
Ken Hunt, chairman of the PED board of directors, said community efforts like the one which brought TeleTech to Paducah are critical in the wake of the loss of jobs from the closure of the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant.
"We don't have a choice," Hunt said of attracting new jobs. "It's not a luxury. It is incumbent on all of us to be involved."
Baxter said TeleTech did a lot of research on the quality of job applicants.
"We've been very pleased with the people we are getting," Baxter said. "I have zero doubt we'll be successful."
TeleTech is holding a job fair today, Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at West Kentucky Community & Technical College.
Several new TeleTech employees were on hand for the ribbon-cutting to christen the new 30,000 square-foot facility. Shirley Kotter, of Brookport, Illinois, was among them.
"My daughter-in-law and my grandson were hired," Kotter said, in explaining what led her to apply as well. "I didn't think they'd hire a 71-year-old ... but they did."
Contact David Zoeller, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8676.