Bell Atlantic to Bring 150-Employee Center to Huntington; Join New State Information Technology Consortium
Consortium to Focus on Developing Technology-based Workforce
June 1, 2000
HUNTINGTON and CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Bell Atlantic will establish a new center in downtown Huntington to serve its wholesale customers, creating 150 high-tech jobs.
In a two-pronged announcement today, Bell Atlantic - West Virginia President and CEO Dennis Bone also joined West Virginia Gov. Cecil H. Underwood in unveiling the formation of a statewide information technology (IT) consortium. The consortium will focus on training workers for highly skilled positions in such technology-based industries as telecommunications and software development/support. The new Bell Atlantic jobs in Huntington are a prime example of these types of high-tech positions.
"I am thrilled that Bell Atlantic can locate this critical, sophisticated operation in West Virginia and particularly in the Advantage Valley," Bone said. "These are highly skilled, highly paid positions. The added annual payroll of nearly $6 million will be a boon to the region's economy."
"Job creation and diversification of the state's economy with an emphasis on the economic potential of technology have been cornerstones of my administration," said Underwood, who participated in today's IT consortium announcement. "This Bell Atlantic center is further evidence of the strides West Virginia has made over the past four years to invest in technology and diversify our economy."
Bell Atlantic's new Carrier Access Team Center will occupy the presently vacant second floor of the company's existing building at 1135 Sixth Ave. - some 23,000 square feet.
The center will provide maintenance and repair services for telecommunications carriers that buy services wholesale from Bell Atlantic and resell those services to the public under their own brands. Those carriers include hundreds of long distance companies and Internet service providers operating in Bell Atlantic's 14-state region, which stretches from Maine to the Virginias.
Bone said the company will begin screening applicants late this summer. By the end of September, the center is expected to open with a start-up force of approximately 40 central office technicians. By the end of the year, he said the center will be fully staffed with some 150 personnel, most of whom will be central office technicians.
Central office technicians will earn approximately $400 to $1,000 a week, depending on their level of experience and length of time in the job. Minimum qualifications for the job include an understanding of electronics, telecommunications technology, circuitry and concepts of technical documentation. Applicants also must pass a company entry test for math, reading and spatial visualization skills.
"These are not entry-level jobs," said Bone. "Some of these new positions will be filled through transfers and promotions from within Bell Atlantic. This movement of personnel will create new job vacancies in our company. We'll fill other positions by hiring qualified individuals directly off the street.
"This demonstrates the need for educational programs that prepare people to work in such technical operations as our Huntington center," Bone added.
"This Bell Atlantic center will play a leadership role in development of a statewide IT industry, which is key to diversifying the economy and creating lifelong career opportunities," said Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.).
The new center will more than double Bell Atlantic's employment in the Huntington area, bringing the company's workforce to about 250. Bell Atlantic is already one of the largest employers in the state, with a workforce of more than 3,200.
"To attract more companies with technology-based jobs, such as these at Bell Atlantic, we need workers in West Virginia who are technology-literate and can readily step into high-tech jobs when they become available," Underwood said. "The IT consortium we're unveiling today will build on the progress we have made to achieve our workforce development goals. Also, it will be similar to existing consortia in other industries such as aerospace and polymers."
"Bell Atlantic will band together with other businesses, the West Virginia Development Office and state educational institutions to focus on our common needs as they relate to information technology," said Bone. "Foremost among these needs is the technical training of our workforce."
Bone identified five immediate goals for the IT consortium:
- Develop a technically proficient workforce that will serve as an economic development tool in attracting high-tech, IT-focused companies to West Virginia.
- Create opportunities for individuals to earn highly marketable IT-related degrees and/or certificates.
- Create a database, for use by consortium members, of available workers by competency and certification.
- Promote West Virginia as a location for IT centers.
- Increase the visibility of IT as a career track.
David Lieving, director of the Governor's Guaranteed Workforce Program, noted that likely members of the IT consortium would include existing West Virginia companies and firms we want to attract to the state. A preliminary meeting of several businesses and community colleges interested in the consortium has already been held.
Bell Atlantic is at the forefront of the new communications and information industry. With more than 44 million telephone access lines and more than 20 million wireless customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic companies are premier providers of advanced wireline voice and data services, market leaders in wireless services and the world's largest publishers of directory information. Bell Atlantic companies are also among the world's largest investors in high-growth global communications markets, with operations and investments in 23 countries.