A German firm will open a call center here next month, eventually adding 150 mostly entry-level jobs to the local economy.
The Yakima County Development Association announced Friday that Arvato Digital Services will launch its operation in part of the former Yakima Mall at East Yakima Avenue and Third Street that previously housed the Whirlpool and Client Logic call centers.
The call center space has been vacant since Whirlpool closed its operation in April 2011.
Arvato Digital Services offers its customers data management, customer care and financial services for businesses worldwide. The parent firm, Arvato Bertelsman owns several subsidiaries, including Random House Publishing and syndicated television programs such as American Idol and The Family Feud, according to an association news release.
YCDA, also known as New Vision, is the county’s economic development arm.
In the early 2000s, Yakima Valley business and community leaders saw call centers and other back-office operations as an important economic generator because the county was seeing double-digit unemployment rates.
The city of Yakima offered tax breaks and training dollars for firms who decided to locate their operations here.
But most of those companies have since left Yakima either to cut costs or because of the recession. Today, just a few call centers remain.
This time around, when Arvato asked for incentives, city officials made it clear that they would not offer any.
“I don’t believe in corporate welfare,” Yakima City Manager Tony O’Rourke said in an phone interview Friday.
The firm signaled interest in Yakima a couple of months ago when it conducted a job fair here.
“Yakima was selected by Arvato after conducting an extensive evaluation of communities across the country,” the news release said quoting Bob Fletcher, executive vice president for the firm’s North American operation. “We are looking for highly motivated individuals with a passion for customer service to handle inbound contacts for our valued clients.”
The release said Arvato will invest several million dollars in the new Yakima center.
The firm plans a job fair from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday at 399 E. Yakima Ave. For more information on applying for a position, visit createyourowncareer.com.
Arvato Bertelsman operates in 35 countries and has 68,000 employees.