Service Zone chooses not to come to Vidalia

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 4, 2001

VIDALIA, La. – Service Zone won’t bring a customer service center to Concordia Parish this year but is still considering locating there next year, a company official said Wednesday.

&uot;We’ve announced our location sites for this year, but we have decided to look very strong in (Concordia’s) direction for next year,&uot;&160;said John Bray, executive vice president with the Homosassa Springs, Fla.-based company.

Service Zone, which trains its workers to answer customer questions for computer companies, is also considering several other locations throughout Louisiana, Bray said.

He also said company executives are working with Gov. Mike Foster on possible incentives to bring the company to the state.

Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland traveled to Baton Rouge Monday to discuss with local lawmakers the possibility of including $3 million in the state’s budget to build facilities for a computer call center.

&uot;If we’re not successful in getting Service Zone to come here, maybe we could attract another company to the area,&uot; said Copeland, who also toured a Service Zone center in Bogalusa last weekend.

Actually, $7.5 million for building such facilities is included in the capital outlay bill that is pending before the House Ways and Means Committee. It would cost almost $3 million to build each facility.

&uot;This money wouldn’t be just for Concordia,&uot; said Ways and Means Chairman Bryant Hammett, D-Ferriday. &uot;It was worded so that wherever in the state they decided to locate, the money could be used there.&uot;

Service Zone officials said earlier this year they were looking for locations for three or four customer service centers. The company was considering Vidalia, Bastrop, Winnsboro and Jena, as well as cities in Mississippi, Texas, Florida, Kentucky, Virginia, Oregon and North Dakota.

But last month, Service Zone announced it will locate centers in Andalusia, Hamilton and Winfield, Ala., each employing more than 600 people.

How many customer call centers Service Zone establishes next year will depend on how the economy fares over the next six to nine months.

&uot;It probably would not affect us tremendously, but it might slow our growth somewhat,&uot; Bray said.

&uot;We should have solid growth projections by the end of this year&uot; and should have a good idea of prospective locations by the end of this year, he said.