NETWORKS - Sullivan Partnership - You can get there from here.

New Sprint call center opens in Sullivan County

BY JAMES SHEA | BRISTOL HERALD COURIER |

BRISTOL, Tenn. – A few dozen elected officials and business leaders helped launch the opening Friday of the new home for one of the region’s largest employers.

In one year, the new Sprint call center was constructed and now employs 600.

“This has been a fast and furious year for us,” said Sprint Director Deb Domer. “It seems like only a while ago we would come by here and the bulldozers were moving dirt.”

The call center is on state Route 394 near the Food City.

Sprint operated a facility in Bristol, Va., but was looking to relocate and expand. The company scouted several locations but settled on a deal in Sullivan County. As an incentive, the state of Tennessee contributed a $548,250 FastTrack Infrastructure Development Grant, while the city of Bristol and Sullivan County contributed a 20 percent match.

The company could also receive additional tax incentives for hiring call center workers and for training employees.

Domer said the company hired most of the 500 employees that worked at the Bristol, Va., facility and hired around 100 additional people. The center has space for as many as 750.

The starting pay is around $12 an hour, said Domer, who added that the company easily filled the additional jobs and most are from the local community.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, said the project was a cooperative effort between state and local officials as well as business leaders.

“This has been a team effort,” Ramsey said.

Ramsey, whose office and home are near the facility, said he has driven past the building often while it was being constructed. He was amazed at how quickly it took shape.

“It is highly unusual for something to move this quickly,” Ramsey said. “The wheels of government turn slowly. I get frustrated as a business person.”

The building contains a specialized phone system, Internet café, game room, exercise room and break room.