September 24, 2009
T-Mobile has plans to hire about 100 more people to work at its call center here.
OAKLAND -- T-Mobile has plans to hire about 100 more people to work at its call center here.
Already among the area's largest work forces, the company then would have about 825 employees at its FirstPark location.
"It's a great place to come to work," general manager Mark Nolan said during a social hour last week at the Central Maine Growth Council's annual banquet. "There's a fitness center, game rooms and a cafeteria. And an Internet café."
And its full-time workers start at $11.60 an hour, with benefits.
Situated on a large, picturesque campus at the end of the regional business park, T-Mobile began operating its call center there in 2005. The company staffs the center from 6 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week.
T-Mobile employees field customers' questions regarding billing and the function of cell phones.
Nolan said the building is large enough to serve the company's growth plan in Maine.
"We're where we need to be right now," he said.
Nolan added that the greater Waterville community has been a good fit for T-Mobile.
"They welcomed us," he said, "from day one."
Steve Levesque can attest to that. Levesque, of Farmingdale, was a driving force in "The People of the Kennebec" group that landed the funding to build FirstPark, the business and technology center that opened in 2002 and that was designed to attract high-tech, relatively well-paying jobs to the area.
"This is what we wanted to do," said Levesque, now a director of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, which seeks to redevelop the closed Brunswick Naval Air Station. "We wanted a high-tech park as a showplace of Maine.
"And look at this place," he said of T-Mobile's offices here. "This is built for the decades. This is a long view."
Leonard Dow, executive director of FirstPark, also was there when the Oakland site was chosen from among 36 competing communities, in 1999. With $1 million in federal startup money, FirstPark signed up 24 area communities as partners.
"This was the goal," Dow said.
T-Mobile, Dow said, is benefiting from a ready and educated workforce.
"They say they're getting the cream of the crop right now, because so many people are laid off," he said.
John Butera, director of the Central Maine Growth Council, said "opportunity can knock" in a difficult economy. Butera could have spoken for T-Mobile management.
"Be prepared and well-positioned," he told those attending the banquet. "We need to recognize trends and issues, and have the right mindset."
T-Mobile's impact on the local economy is significant, Butera said.
"It's huge. It's important from a number of perspectives. It shows, first and foremost, that we can compete for a world-class company."
Larry Grard -- 861-9239