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Johnson: Call center delayed, not dead

GREENVILLE — According to an economic developer in Greenville, the call center proposed for the Port City is not dead, but the opening has simply been delayed.

Ed Johnson, CEO of the Delta Economic Development Center in Greenville, said there has been a problem between the partners of Call Center Outsourcing, LLC. However, he was adamant that the business would open.

“There have been a couple of bumps in the road in their managerial structure,” Johnson said. “One business partner has bowed out, and that has slowed the project. But, I am very familiar with this project, and it will open.”

Johnson said Call Center Outsourcing received funding from the city as well as the Mississippi STEPS Program, a joint venture between the Mississippi Department of Human Services and the Mississippi Department of Employment Security, that subsidizes the wages of a new employee hired by any public hospital, private non-profit or for-profit entity in the state over a six-month period. The program, which is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, began in Oct. 2009 and will run through Sept. 2011. Johnson said the business has not “taken the money and run” as one anonymous caller to the Mississippi Business Journal claimed.

“(The call center) does have contracts with major clients,” Johnson said. “Those clients read the newspaper, and when people call the media like this it hurts the area. (Regina Luke) is a Delta woman who has put so much hard work into this thing.”

Calls to Luke, a Greenville native and CEO of Call Center Outsourcing, were not immediately returned.

On Oct. 7, Johnson announced the opening of Call Center Outsourcing, which would initially employ 50 people.

The press release said Luke owned a call center in North Georgia and was moving the company and jobs to Greenville.

The release named Debbie Saulter as COO of Call Outsourcing. It said she had served as regional CFO in the casino industry for the last 15 years in Greenville.

Johnson said he advised the owners to hold off on their announcement back in October because, as with all new businesses, issues can arise. But, they wanted to put a strong push on then.

Johnson said he was not sure when the original target date for opening was.


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