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T-Mobile Gives State a Second Ring

   T-Mobile USA, which recently earned high marks from J.D. Power & Associates for customer service, chose Chattanooga for its second customer contact center in the state. The facility, now under construction, is at the intersection of State Highway 153 and U.S. 11.
   T-Mobile USA and The Staubach Company have worked on projects for the wireless firm's Customer Care Division for about three years, and the two are teaming on T-Mobile USA's 78,000-sq.-ft. (7,200-sq.-m.) Chattanooga center. T-Mobile plans to eventually employ more than 700 to staff the operation, set to take its first call next summer.
   Staubach's role included managing labor market selection, site selection, incentives negotiation and construction management, says Pete Marin, a senior vice president for corporate services in Staubach's Atlanta office. Marin says the build-to-suit facility will be completed by the end of February 2006. Staubach handles T-Mobile USA's entire customer contact center portfolio, with the Chattanooga facility being the 17th collaboration between the two firms.
   "We put it through a series of filters, and being in the Eastern time zone was one of our criteria," Marin says. "We looked at a lot of cities and labor market areas before coming up with Chattanooga. It's a high-visibility site and will make a big statement in the marketplace." Marin says the building will contain plenty of amenities to aid employee recruitment including a fitness room, a cafeteria and high ceilings allowing in lots of daylight. T-Mobile already has a customer service center in Nashville, which opened in 2001 and employs more than 850.
   The T-Mobile project is the second of two major customer care centers coming to the state in 2005. Caremark Rx, a pharmacy benefits manager, opened a center in Nashville in July and plans to employ approximately 600 as it reaches capacity in two to three years. On the expansion side, Traveler's Personal Insurance is adding 100 jobs to its Knoxville call center operations.
   Chewing gum giant Wrigley's is also finding Chattanooga to be in mint condition for expansion projects. Wrigley's gained a Chattanooga factory in June when it acquired certain confectionary assets from Kraft Foods. Now, Wrigley's is spending $14 million to add 60,000 sq. ft. (5,574 sq. m.) and create 150 jobs by transferring production of Altoid mints to the U.S. from Bridgend, Wales.
   Chattanooga has also been busy in the headquarters hunt, with SI Corp., a specialist in geotextiles, moving from across the border in Chickamauga, Ga., to downtown. The move brings 100 jobs to the city. BlueCross BlueShield is consolidating operations from nine of its Chattanooga buildings into one 800,000-sq.-ft. (75,000-sq.-m.), $200-million office complex with construction beginning in early 2006.
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