700 jobs coming to Tampa over two years

Call center operator OneTouch Direct has pledged to keep its corporate headquarters in Tampa and add 700 jobs here over the next two years.

The marketing firm, which handles customer service contacts for several major wireless providers, had considered relocating to Michigan or the Buffalo, N.Y., area.

Dave Masi, OneTouch’s executive vice president, said Tampa’s strong labor base already trained in customer service helped keep the company from leaving.

“Tampa is such a mecca for call centers,” he said. “We recognize that clients don’t hire our company. They hire our people, and Hillsborough County’s labor pool has an abundance of individuals that possess the qualities and skills our clients have come to expect.”

As an added incentive to stay put, OneTouch received a grant from Workforce Florida that will cover roughly a fourth of the cost of training new hires. Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp., the region’s chief driver for corporate retention and relocation, worked with the company, but there was no separate tax incentive package connected to its decision, Masi indicated.

In addition to handling billing inquiries and renewal and retention efforts, OneTouch also acts as an account manager for some of its customers. For AT&T, for instance, OneTouch directly services the needs of business-to-business customers in the one- to 50-employee range.

The new hires will work out of the company’s two area operations centers: on Sligh Avenue near Tampa International Airport and on Lakeview Center Drive off MLK Boulevard. In tandem with the growth, OneTouch has signed a lease extension at its Sligh Avenue headquarters and plans to acquire additional space on the campus that will nearly double the size of its call center from 28,000 square feet to 53,000 square feet.

Masi said the company will probably add new workers at the rate of about 30 a month, limited mainly by how fast it can train them.

The hiring spree is being driven by two large contracts. Among OneTouch’s biggest customers are AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile.

OneTouch established its headquarters in Tampa in 1998 with one client, five employees and 20 call center agents in a customer service center. The expansion will swell its workforce to nearly 2,000.

The pay scale ranges from $14.40 an hour to $16.50 an hour, depending on experience and other factors, Masi said. Interested applicants are urged to e-mail careers@onetouchdirect.com or visit the company’s Web site, onetouchdirect.com, for more information.

St. Petersburg Times