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CHANDLER, AZ-AmeriCredit Corp. is set to break ground this week on a 150,000-sf facility that is destined to become the company’s largest call center operation in the nation. Preliminary estimates peg the project at $20 million, but bids are still being evaluated and the bottom line could go higher.

“With the capacity it will have, it will be our largest pure customer service center,” AmeriCredit’s John Hoffman tells GlobeSt.com The three-story call center, to be located at 1975 S. Price Rd. near the Loop 101 and SanTan Freeway exchange, will replace the firm’s existing center in Tempe. Some 550 employees will be relocated in March 2003 when the construction is completed. About 1,000 workers eventually will be employed at the new facility.

Hoffman said the company’s Arlington, TX facility, which opened last year, is similar in size to the Chandler center but also houses an operation center.

There are more than 100 call centers in Arizona, including several large-scale employers such as American Express, Discover Card and Bank of America, employing hundreds of thousands of people, Jim Wilson, senior director with Cushman & Wakefield of Arizona Inc. tells GlobeSt.com.

Wilson says Arizona’s lax credit card laws allow credit card companies to charge higher interest rates on penalties, which makes the state so alluring for call center locations. “Some states are regulated by usury laws but not here,” Wilson said. “They’re not regulated so they can play around” (with interest charges).

Hoffman says it was the appeal of the Chandler location, however, that made the site a perfect fit for the company’s relocation plans. With it’s easy freeway access and reasonably priced land, the site has tremendous potential. And being located in one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation allows the company to draw from a large and educated labor pool, Hoffman says. “We looked at our long term needs and this site happened to be the best available,” he adds.

Hoffman says the company has “no timetable for ramping up the operation” to its full 1,000 employee capacity, but noted that AmeriCredit expects a 25% growth this year and that should mean more jobs in the call center industry. AmeriCredit opened its Tempe center in 1996. In addition to the Texas center, there are facilities in Charlotte, NC, Jacksonville, FL and Peterborough, Ontario. AmeriCredit employs more than 5,000 workers.

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