More than a year after its grand opening, the Comcast Center of Excellence at 4690 N. Oracle Road – former home to Grand Cinemas and American Home Furnishings – continues to make its economic footprint felt in the Tucson region and beyond.
The decision to assume control of the lease for what was at the time a near-vacant multistory building didn’t come nonchalantly. It was a matter of finding the delicate balance that bridged quality customer service with employee morale, as the two so often go hand-in-hand. Nearby places to eat, convenience of transport and the ability to transform the workplace into a suitable and productive environment were just some of the baseline vitals to what Comcast envisioned as a productive and efficient operation.
When all those ideals were weighed, Tucson was the choice.
“It was really about location, location, location,” said Deneiva Knight, public relations and community investment manager. “We wanted to turn what was a vacant building into something positive, that would have a positive financial economic impact to Tucson.”
But a third consideration also prompted Comcast to call the landmark building its new home. Nearby military bases like Davis-Monthan aligned with the company’s mission to hire 10,000 military personnel or military family members by the end of 2017. Of the 1,125 hired to run the new communications center, Comcast ensured 15 percent of those were either family members of or themselves veterans, reservists, or current military.
The new center brings Comcast’s Tucson employee count to more than 1,200, with nearly $3 million in employee benefits to go along with, sparking life into what was only a moderately-used building for the past eight years following the 2008 closing of American Home Furnishings.
Comcast’s vision to make the place its own came with an $8.5 million price tag, renovations including a central call area, training labs, employee cafeterias, and a fitness center. The theater rooms formerly belonging to Grand Cinemas were turned into amphitheater-style rooms for trainings and community investment partners’ meetings. Comcast is currently using 100,000 of the building’s 211,152 square feet. Employees will assist with customer service and sales via phone and social media platforms.
“The Tucson Customer Service Center is being designed from the ground up with training resources and equipment to help the customer service representatives provide exceptional service to our customers,” said Michael Eastman, Comcast senior director and customer account executive. “When our customers reach this call center, they will be connected with agents who are best equipped to provide an outstanding experience for our customers.”
To accomplish this jobs that were previously filled overseas were brought back to the states. This contributed not only to the employment of the aforementioned Tucson employees, but helped create a hiring rush in other American cities: 450 jobs added in Albuquerque, 750 in Spokane, 550 in Charleston and 600 in Fort Collins.
“This was part of our effort to revamp our customer service,” Knight said. “By reducing the number of contracts and agents working outside of the U.S., we felt we better provided more consistent, superior customer service.”
The customer support center will help provide services for the 67,000 Comcast customers in Tucson, and continue to recycle money into the local economy. In 2014, Comcast paid more than $732,000 in property taxes, provided $3.3 million in franchise fees to local communities, and invested more than $200,000 into Comcast Foundation grants, contributions, public service announcements, campaigns, scholarships and community volunteer efforts.
“The expanded presence of Comcast, one of the world’s leading media and technology companies, will further strengthen Southern Arizona’s reputation as a location for high-quality businesses,” said Joe Snell, president and CEO of Sun Corridor Inc. “Our strategic location and talent pool continue to make us attractive to many companies considering expansion plans.”
Comcast is still filling supervisor spots for its new operations center, and will be hosting a job fair on Aug. 18 at the Hilton Tucson East Hotel, 7600 E. Broadway Blvd. Applications can also be filled out online at www.jobs.
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