Verizon Wireless Builds New Headquarters For Carolinas Region With Plans To Expand Its Customer Service Call Center

GREENVILLE, SC — With Verizon Wireless now serving more customers across the country than any other wireless carrier, the company today announced it is building a new facility for its Carolinas Region headquarters in order to accommodate a planned expansion of its customer service call center. Construction of the new $38 million, 192,000 square-foot facility in Mauldin, S.C. has already begun, and it is expected to be complete by January 2002.

"We are extremely pleased that our headquarters will remain in Greenville County, and we are grateful to the state and local officials who worked with us to make it possible," said Jerry Fountain, Verizon Wireless' regional president - Carolinas. "The growth of our customer service call center furthers Verizon Wireless' commitment to providing outstanding service to our rapidly growing customer base. In addition, by expanding our regional headquarters, our company has also reiterated the commitment to keep decision-making as close to our customers as possible."

The expansion of the customer service call center at regional headquarters is expected to create as many as 750 jobs by 2005, mostly for skilled customer service representatives who will answer a growing number of customer calls from the Carolinas.

This is the second expansion to be announced in the Carolinas in recent months. In January, Verizon Wireless announced it expects to create 500 jobs by 2002 as part of an expansion of its customer service call center located in the Richland Mall near Columbia.

"With its second major announcement, Verizon Wireless is demonstrating its confidence in our state's future," said Governor Jim Hodges. "With regional headquarters in Greenville and the state-of-the-art call center in the Midlands, Verizon Wireless is impacting our state with more than 1,250 good jobs for South Carolinians. We are delighted the company will continue to call South Carolina its regional home."

Highwoods Properties Inc. owns and operates Brookfield Office Park where the new regional headquarters is being constructed. With a $17 million investment, Highwoods Properties has purchased the land and is paying its general contractor, Shelco Inc., to construct the actual facility. Verizon Wireless has signed a long-term lease agreement for the entire facility with Highwoods Properties. Grubb & Ellis/The Furman Co. served as Verizon Wireless' commercial real estate broker.

"We are delighted to have a company of Verizon Wireless' caliber as one of our tenants," said Thomas F. Cochran, a senior vice president for Highwoods Properties. "We look forward to working with Verizon Wireless in building a first-class facility to serve as the company's regional headquarters."

When construction of the facility is complete, Verizon Wireless will invest $21 million to upfit the office space and purchase necessary equipment.

The facility is being designed with employee satisfaction and comfort in mind. The new three-story headquarters will feature a large employee training facility, a full-service cafeteria, and an exercise facility. The first floor is expected to house senior and support staff for the direct sales, finance, human resources, information technology and marketing departments. Customer service representatives will occupy the second and third floors. Employees will take an active role in the design of the interior office space.

Currently, Verizon Wireless' Carolinas Region has nearly 400 employees working at its 60,000 square-foot headquarters in Patewood Plaza in Greenville. Approximately 300 of those employees are customer service representatives. The company is expected to begin hiring new customer service representatives later this year.

"As an active corporate citizen in the Upstate for a number of years, Verizon Wireless has demonstrated both its commitment and belief in this community," said Bob Hughes, chairman of the Greater Greenville Chamber of Commerce. "We're proud that Greenville has been able to provide the productivity, profitability and quality of life that Verizon Wireless finds so desirable."

The expansion of this customer service call center is part of a nationwide call center plan and part of Verizon Wireless' commitment to continue delivering superior customer service during a period of projected strong growth.

About Verizon Wireless

Verizon Wireless is the largest wireless communications provider in the U.S. with 27.5 million wireless voice and data customers. The new coast-to-coast wireless provider was formed by the combination of the U.S. wireless businesses of Bell Atlantic Corp. and GTE Corp -- now Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) -- and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). The new company includes the assets of Bell Atlantic Mobile, AirTouch Cellular, GTE Wireless, PrimeCo Personal Communications and AirTouch Paging. The company has a footprint covering nearly 90 percent of the U.S. population, 49 of the top 50 and 96 of the top 100 U.S. markets. Verizon Wireless, headquartered in Bedminster, NJ, is 38,000 employees strong. Reporters and editors can find more information about the company on the Web at