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CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Bell Atlantic today began delivery on its commitment to bring 200 new jobs to Charleston, officially opening its new Welcome Center in downtown Charleston. Employees at the facility, located at 408 Broad St., already are taking calls from new Bell Atlantic customers as far away as New Jersey.
"It's appropriate that the first voices our new customers hear are those of West Virginians," said Dennis Bone, president and CEO of Bell Atlantic-West Virginia. "The people of this state are warm, friendly and downright hospitable. That's the very image that we at Bell Atlantic want to convey each and every day."
Ted Armbrecht, vice president of Charleston Renaissance, assisted in cutting a ribbon to open the center. "This is a great day for Charleston and the Kanawha Valley," he said. "Bell Atlantic has been extremely active over the years in attracting new industry to the state. Now they've brought some of their own, 200 new jobs to Charleston just in time for the holidays. And this move further supports the rebuilding of Charleston's east end, a move that is vital to our city's future."
Tom Burns, executive director of the West Virginia Development Office and a past CEO of Bell Atlantic-West Virginia, said, "This new office is another terrific example of what the Office of the Future partnership with Bell Atlantic has accomplished. And, on a personal note, I am pleased to see Bell Atlantic continue its commitment to the State of West Virginia."
Bell Atlantic's partnership in West Virginia's Office of the Future project has attracted more than 12,000 new jobs in information-intensive industries to the state.
While the official opening was today, the center has been operating on a limited basis for several months, as it increases staff. Employees at the center establish accounts, and verify credit information and addresses, for those customers ordering phone service from Bell Atlantic for the first time. Presently, the center is handling calls from New Jersey customers. However, calls from customers in other mid-Atlantic states will begin flowing into the center in the near future.
Larry Grant, Bell Atlantic vice president-receivables management, also joined in the celebration. "Handling this work from a specialized center makes it easier for new customers to sign up for Bell Atlantic's services," Grant said. "Consultants in our residential sales and service centers currently perform credit screening in addition to setting up a new subscriber's phone service. The consultants at these centers will now be able to focus their time on helping new customers choose the telecommunications services that best fit their lifestyles."
Bone noted that Bell Atlantic and its employees are "refocusing and recommitting our resources to providing the very best customer care." The company recently adopted an eight-point service policy that includes assuring customer satisfaction on every installation and repair visit.
In addition, Bell Atlantic has launched a marketing campaign featuring artwork from "Where the Wild Things Are," a well-known children's book by Maurice Sendak. In the campaign advertising, the animated "Wild Things" help customers find their way through the communications jungle.
The Charleston Welcome Center is expected to receive 1.1 million calls a year from new Bell Atlantic customers. The calls will be handled over an advanced telecommunications network that Bell Atlantic has been aggressively deploying throughout the Mountain State.
Bone said Bell Atlantic was inundated with applications for employment following the company's July announcement that the center would be based in Charleston. The center will have 100 employees by year's end, and new employees are currently being trained. The facility will reach its full capacity of 200 by June 1998.
The Charleston Welcome Center is one of two facilities that will handle such calls from new customers in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C. The other will be located in Ewing Township, N.J.
The new Bell Atlantic - formed through the merger of Bell Atlantic and NYNEX - is at the forefront of the new communications, information and entertainment industry. With 40 million telephone access lines and 5.5 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 21 countries.