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Call center interested in S'side as new site for a satellite office

GRANDVIEW - Enthusiasm for the future economic development of the Yakima County is at an all-time high, according to members of the Yakima County New Vision board.

Those who attended the board meeting in Grandview Thursday evening listened as reports revealed interest in the Valley is spreading like wildfire.

Even with Yakima's recent loss of a large calling center, New Vision has received calls daily from companies wishing to locate in the Yakima Valley.

"It's exciting times," said Mel Wagner of the New Vision board.

"We have had the biggest influx of calls from businesses wanting to take a look at the Yakima Valley than we have had in the history of New Vision," Wagner told his fellow board members.

The phones at the county's economic development offices in Yakima are ringing constantly, he said. "I expect we will be able to tell you some exciting news in a month or two," he added.

Yakima County is being looked at as the site for at least two new calling centers, said Sheila Black, New Vision marketing coordinator.

"We have been in contact with representatives from three manufacturing firms, a distribution center and a wind farm, all who have indicated interest in locating in the county," reported Black.

"It's hard to be patient, but I feel we will have more visits to come," she said.

Black said one of the calling centers is also looking at Sunnyside as a possible site for one of its satellite centers.

M'Liss Bierlink of the Sunnyside Port District reported the call center representatives were recently in Sunnyside looking at various properties.

"They like our space in the Port's Horizon building," Bierlink said.

"They also were impressed with one of our natural resources," she said.

Bierlink said the call centers are looking at hiring persons who have clear Spanish accents, noting that the call centers are targeting the Hispanic community.

Black said a number of management agencies are also looking at the county.

There seems to be a surge in business across the nation, and as the nation's economy begins to pick up, people are talking about expansion, said Mike Broadhead, chair of the New Vision board.

"As a result we can expect to be seeing a lot of exciting changes in our communities in the coming months," said Broadhead.

The New Vision board of directors also heard from Steve Martin of the Grandview Wal-Mart distribution center, which is one of New Vision's stellar accomplishments for the past year.

"We're very happy with our decision to locate in the Lower Valley," said Martin. He said the center's new employees have near perfect attendance "Employee turnover has been very low. Everyone is pleased with the situation," he added.

Martin said the center is moving a million cases a week, with as many as 175 trucks making daily deliveries.

"We just hired 400 associates, but we will continue to recruit and hire," he added.

The spin-off impact from the opening of the Wal-Mart center on the Grandview community is being felt in new housing starts and additional businesses seeking to locate in the community, said Colleen Byam of the Grandview Port District.

"We expect to be announcing soon that another new business will be locating in our port district, adding up to 20 more jobs to the economy," she said.

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