FORT COLLINS — Officials for cable broadband services provider Comcast said on Thursday that they plan to begin hiring for a new 600-worker Fort Collins customer service center in the third or fourth quarter of the year, with a grand opening targeted for the first quarter of next year.
Comcast officially unveiled its plans in a ceremony at Galvanize’s Fort Collins campus after initially confirming they’d be opening the facility on Tuesday.
Comcast is leasing 80,000 square feet of vacant space at tech giant Hewlett-Packard’s campus, 3420 E. Harmony Road, and hopes to have most of the 600-plus positions filled when the call center opens. Rich Jennings, senior vice president for Comcast’s mountain-west region, told the crowd Thursday that the company is working on significant upgrades to the facility now, including an onsite gym and extensive training spaces.
“We want it to be fresh, we want it to be slick, modern,” Jennings said. “We want to attract great talent.”
Although Comcast hadn’t been identified publicly as the applicant at the time, the Colorado Economic Development Commission in January approved more than $8.1 million in tax-credit incentives for Comcast to locate the facility in Fort Collins and hire up to 635 employees at an average annual wage of $44,421, equal to or slightly higher than the average for Larimer County. Comcast had also been considering New Mexico and Arizona for the facility.
The new facility is part of a broader initiative launched by Comcast last year to add 5,500 customer-service employees in coming years. New call centers have already opened in Spokane, Wash.; Tucson, Ariz.; and Albuquerque, N.M., with another opening soon in Charleston, S.C. The Fort Collins center will serve residential and business customers from all over the United States, primarily with technical repair and billing support.
With the Larimer County unemployment rate hovering around 3 percent in recent months, Jennings acknowledged that the call center will likely draw employees from the Northern Colorado region as a whole. But he and other Comcast officials said Fort Collins was chosen specifically for its talented workforce and quality of life. They also noted that the call center could provide job opportunities for Colorado State University students and military veterans.
“Our hope is that we can stay right here and focus on (Fort Collins) for these jobs,” Jennings said.
Jonita LeRoy, senior information technology economic development representative for the state of Colorado, said the impact of the site should go far beyond the office walls, noting that tech-based jobs tend to have a higher multiplier effect on the indirect economic impact of a jobsite.
City of Fort Collins officials also heralded Comcast’s plan as a win for the city.
Fort Collins did not offer Comcast incentives. But Josh Birks, economic health director for the city, said the city worked with state officials to manage site request responses from the state and helped facilitate site visits.
While the jobs don’t carry the flashy wage figures that, say, an engineering facility might, both Mayor Wade Troxell and Birks said it’s important for the city to create economic opportunities for a wide variety of citizens. Birks said the Comcast jobs pay well for someone who might not have a lot of work experience or a college degree, and can also serve as a stepping stone to a degree or other opportunities.
“We made a commitment in 2015 to make sure economic activity is spread across education and income levels,” Birks said.