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Red Cross to hire 440 call center workers in Charlotte

http://66.225.205.104/JR20100526.mp3

The American Red Cross is closing two dozen call centers around the country and bringing 440 of those jobs to Charlotte. Tax breaks and other economic incentives are typically the sweetener in any deal to bring a new company to Charlotte. But the competition to get the new American Red Cross call center posed a challenge because nonprofits typically don't qualify for traditional state and local incentives. So the Charlotte Chamber's Economic Development team, led by Kati Hynes, had to get creative in courting the Red Cross. She helped the nonprofit qualify for a $250,000 grant from the state's workforce development fund. That money will be used to train new workers at the call center. The positions will be full and part-time, making an average salary of about $25,000. Duke Energy also joined the effort, offering a $15,000 grant from its Carolinas Investment Fund, according to Red Cross spokeswoman Debbie Estes. Duke Energy makes periodic grants to lure companies that are likely to expand Duke's customer base. Estes says the Red Cross call center will move into its new location off Arrowood Road and I-77 in September and start hiring soon after that. It will support Red Cross blood donation efforts for all of the East Coast. "They'll be calling blood donors from Maine to Florida to help them to establish donation appointments," explains Estes. "They'll also be doing reminder calls to donors who already have scheduled appointments." Last month, the Charlotte City Council rushed to rezone a parking lot near the new call center anticipating as many as 1,000 new jobs. Estes says the Red Cross only expects to hire 440 people for now.