Similar to landing a new job, it never hurts to know someone who knows someone.
That was at least one factor that helped the Port of Grays Harbor recruit the Internet retailer Overstock.com, which plans to open a 150-employee customer care call center at the port’s Satsop Business Park this year. The center is expected to open in 20,000 square feet of office space in the second quarter, said Alissa Shay, the port’s business development manager for the park.
Shay shared those details and others with about 100 people during the Mason County Economic Development Council’s annual luncheon at Little Creek Casino Resort last week.
The Satsop Business Park, which was once a never-developed nuclear power plant site, has some things working in its favor, including that it has leased space to a customer call center before, so that office space was ready to accommodate the next user, Shay said.
Shay said the port also worked with a local individual who knew someone at the Salt Lake City-based Overstock.com who had been hired to find a location for the company in Washington state. That person was familiar with Satsop, she said.
Not only is Overstock.com bringing jobs to Satsop, it’s bringing an undisclosed number of software jobs to Tacoma, she said.
There were challenges: Overstock.com officials questioned whether the area could supply the workforce for their needs.
Shay said the port got an assist from some key partners, including Pacific Mountain Workforce Development, Grays Harbor College, Grays Harbor PUD, the Governor’s Office and the Thurston Economic Development Council. Executive Director Michael Cade shared his knowledge about a call center that does business in Thurston County. That call center, which is based in northeast Lacey, is thought to handle customer service calls for Verizon.
“They were blown away by the quality and quantity of applicants,” she said about Overstock.com.
Another concern was the lack of on-site amenities at the business park, which requires that those who work there drive about 7 miles to Elma for services. But that could change this year because there’s an effort to bring food service to the site.
Shay said that recruiting Overstock.com was not about Grays Harbor County competing with Mason County or Thurston County.
“This was about our region competing with other regions,” she said. “I’m really proud of that effort.”
The Overstock.com customer care call center jobs will pay $12.50 an hour plus benefits, Shay said.