Verizon Wireless Opens State-Of-The-Art Call Center In North Charleston, South Carolina; Center Staffed Wtih More Than 700 Employees

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC — Verizon Wireless, the nation's leading wireless communications provider, will officially dedicate its state-of-the-art call center today in North Charleston. The $25-million facility is expected to bring up to 1,100 jobs to the local economy by the end of 2005.

Community leaders, company officials and employees, and government officials will attend the grand opening ceremonies this morning, which will include a ceremonial ribbon-cutting to mark the official opening of the new building and the company's expanded presence in Charleston.

"Verizon Wireless' focus is providing customers with the best, most reliable nationwide wireless network and customer service in the industry," said Jeremiah Knight, director of Customer Service for the Charleston call center. "This new center will help us to deliver on that promise as we continue to achieve record-breaking customer growth and focus on providing the best possible experience for existing customers and the new ones we plan to add this year."

The 150,000-square-foot call center, located at the Carriage Hill Executive Center on Mall Drive, is the site of the former Montgomery Ward building. The center is currently staffed with more than 700 customer service and customer financial services representatives, and the next class of 125 new hires will begin on March 7. The company continues to hire new employees. Interested applicants can call 800-575-HIRE (4473) 8:00 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week, and reference code PRE-A8YB or visit www.verizonwireless.com/careers.  

"This announcement is a tremendous boost to our state on both the job and capital investment fronts from a solid company that's already very well-established here in South Carolina," said Governor Mark Sanford. "Anytime a company like Verizon Wireless expands a major part of its operations into yet another corner of your state — with over a thousand new jobs — the impact on the local and state economies is going to be significant. We're grateful for Verizon Wireless' presence here in South Carolina and are looking forward to building on that relationship as we welcome this new call center to the Lowcountry."

"Verizon Wireless and North Charleston are a great match," said Keith Summey, Mayor, City of North Charleston. "Verizon Wireless' new, state-of-the-art call center will stand as a symbol of excellence and success for the entire Charleston area for many years to come."

Employees working at the center have completed a comprehensive four-to-six-week training program to prepare them to serve customers. Each employee is expected to participate in an additional six to eight hours of training every month as part of the company's commitment to give its employees the latest tools to provide Verizon Wireless customers with exceptional customer service. Nationally, the company spends $100 million annually to support customer service efforts through system upgrades, call center enhancements and training.

"South Carolina, Charleston County and the City of North Charleston have created a business-friendly environment for us to open our new call center," said Steven Post, director of Customer Financial Services for the new center. "We are pleased with the talent, education and experience of our new employees, and look forward to providing them with many career opportunities."

Verizon Wireless has a strong presence in South Carolina, with more than 4,500 employees. The company operates call centers in Greenville and Columbia, South Carolina, and 21 Communications Stores and five Circuit City "store within a store" locations. Once the center is fully staffed, the company anticipates being ranked among the top 10 largest private employers in the Charleston region.

"Our heartfelt congratulations goes to Verizon Wireless on a watershed project for Charleston County," said Timothy E. Scott, vice chairman of Charleston County Council. "This beautiful, world-class facility is a classic case study of adaptive reuse that is so renowned in our area. Verizon Wireless has breathed new life back into an old building and a commercially stagnant property. The company also brings more economic rejuvenation to North Charleston with its top-flight, industry-leading telecommunications career opportunities. Our citizens are embracing the company and Verizon Wireless will be proud of our highly competitive workforce."

Donations to Mark Grand Opening

To celebrate the grand opening of the center, the company will donate $50,000 to the Medical University of South Carolina's (MUSC) College of Dental Medicine. The donation will support construction of the James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine clinical facility in Charleston. The new building will allow for larger student enrollment, accommodate the new technologies needed for dental training, and expand the College's capacity to provide patient care in a modern setting.

"MUSC operates the only dental school in South Carolina, and we play an important role in addressing the state's shortage of dentists. Verizon Wireless' generous donation will support construction of a new facility which will enable us to expand future enrollment," said John Sanders, Interim Dean, MUSC College of Dental Medicine. "The new building will also increase special needs patients' access to dental care and provide students with high-tech training facilities to learn the complexities of modern dentistry."

The company will also donate 40 wireless phones and service to My Sister's House, a local shelter for women in domestic abuse and crisis situations, expanding its relationship with the agency. Through Verizon Wireless' national HopeLineSM program, the company distributes previously owned wireless phones to assist victims of domestic violence in emergency or threatening situations. Additionally, the HopeLine program supports non-profit domestic violence prevention groups, and provides an environmentally friendly method for recycling handsets.

"Access to emergency phones is essential in providing for our client's safety needs," said Elmire Raven, executive director, My Sister's House. "Verizon Wireless' HopeLine program gives victims a way to reach for help when they need it most."

Since 2001, Verizon Wireless has recycled more than 2 million phones and donated $5 million in cash and in-kind contributions to domestic crisis and prevention programs.

A Great Place to Work

Verizon Wireless is consistently ranked as one of the best places to work in the country because of its employee-friendly policies. In 2004, the company was named one of Working Mother magazine's "100 Best Companies for Working Mothers" for the fourth year in a row. Health Magazine named the company one of 10 U.S. employers revolutionizing workplaces to help women balance their professional and personal responsibilities.

For three consecutive years, Verizon Wireless has been named one of the nation's top 100 companies by Training magazine for its continued commitment to employee development and for connecting its training programs to business objectives. In 2004, the company ranked 20th on the magazine's annual list of the "Top 100 Training Organizations in America," and was the highest ranked wireless service provider.

Record Setting Performance

Verizon Wireless' 2004 performance set industry records for customer growth and retention. The company added more than 6.3 million net new customers during the year, posted the lowest churn/highest customer retention in its history, and continued its record of strong profitability.

About Verizon WirelessVerizon Wireless owns and operates the nation's most reliable wireless network, serving 43.8 million voice and data customers. Headquartered in Bedminster, NJ, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). Find more information on the Web at www.verizonwireless.com. To receive broadcast-quality video footage and high-resolution stills of Verizon Wireless operations, log on to the Verizon Wireless Multimedia Library at www.verizonwireless.com/multimedia.  

About HopeLine2005 marks the 10 year anniversary of the Verizon Wireless HopeLine program, which puts wireless products and services to work to combat domestic violence. Today, HopeLine collects wireless phones and accessories from any wireless carrier and refurbishes or recycles them with proceeds benefiting victims of domestic violence. The environmentally friendly HopeLine Program also provides victims with essential communication tools — wireless phones and wireless services, including voicemail and pre-paid wireless minutes. Donations are accepted at all 1, 900-plus Verizon Wireless Communications Stores across the country. For additional information, customers can visit www.verizonwireless.com/hopeline.  

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