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Call center will bring up to 1,100 jobs to Norman

Updated:
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- A telephone call center that serves
financial institutions and the computer industry will bring up to
1,100 jobs to Norman.

Service Zone President Timothy J. Hayes said Wednesday his
Florida-based company selected Norman over sites in 12 states.

"We believe it is absolutely the best city we could choose,"
Hayes said. He cited the area's relative underemployment, positive
community, strong vocational technical training program at the
Moore-Norman Technology Center and good area workforce.

Service Zone is staffed around the clock to help customers.

Construction on the company's center in the Norman Business Park
on Oklahoma 9 is expected to begin immediately. The company already
is recruiting employees to provide technical support, customer
service and problem-solving skills for clients.

In addition to the location on Oklahoma 9, Service Zone also
will operate from a leased building downtown.

Don Wood, executive director of the Norman Economic Development
Coalition, said the training program at the technology center was a
major incentive for Service Zone to locate in Norman.

The state Department of Commerce initiated the job contact for
Norman, Wood said.

Hayes said the company hopes to become "the Southwest Airlines
of the customer care industry" by eliminating wasteful spending.

Hayes, formerly with Apple Computer and Gateway Computer Co.,
said the 18-month old company employs about 75 people in Florida.
Many of its employees came from the computer industry.

The starting wage will be $8.75 an hour. Training will take
three to four weeks.

Gov. Frank Keating said Oklahoma's progress in attracting
business is becoming well known. "The message is sinking in....
These things should happen. This community is too good not to have
this happen," he said.

Mayor Bob Thompson welcomed the company.
"We're really excited about what's going on in Norman,"
Thompson said. "We've had two grand openings (the westside
Wal-Mart and Dillard's re-opening) and a new business announcement
and it's only 10:15," he said."I don't know what else can happen
today."

The announcement was the second of a telephone call center
coming to Norman in less than a week. Boise Cascade Office Products
Corp. said it would operate an outbound all center that will employ
300.

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