The expansion of a customer-service call center is expected to create 400 to 500 full-time jobs in Clovis before the end of the year.
Ryla Inc., based in Georgia, will hold eight open-house recruiting events starting Monday to take applications.
"We're hoping to hire 500 people, depending on the applicant pool," said Mark Wilson, Ryla's founder and CEO. "We're talking about permanent, full-time positions with competitive wages."
Wilson said wages "will definitely be well north of what someone would get on unemployment."
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The Clovis call center is operated by Chino-based Alorica Inc. and employs 117 people. Alorica acquired Ryla earlier this year, and the call center will soon be rebranded under the Ryla name.
Wilson was in Clovis on Thursday to inform employees of the expansion and coming changes. The first 275 hires will begin training by Nov. 1, Wilson said, with the rest to be hired before the end of 2010.
All of the new hiring is to handle a single Ryla client, which Wilson identified as a Fortune 50 cellular and telecommunications company that is expanding. After training, the new employees will field telephone calls related to billing, service plans and basic technical support, Wilson said. Some of the jobs will be supervisory and support positions.
The hiring comes as the unemployment rate in Fresno County is above 15% -- several percentage points higher than statewide and national rates.
"Not only does this mean 400 to 500 more people will have jobs, but they'll be spending their money in Clovis, at the nearby restaurants and businesses," said Fran Blackney, business advocate for the Clovis Chamber of Commerce.
Blackney said she first learned of Ryla's expansion plans Wednesday, when the company called to inquire about joining the chamber.
"Maybe -- and I'll keep my fingers crossed -- this is a sign of the times," Blackney said. "We keep hearing about how businesses aren't expanding because of uncertainty, so it's nice to hear about one that is expanding."
The 30,000-square-foot space in the Clovis Towne Center, on West Shaw Avenue between Villa and Minnewawa avenues, has served as a call center since 2000, when FirstWorld Communications Inc. moved its operations from Fresno. Alorica acquired FirstWorld in 2002.
The building has plenty of room to accommodate the expansion. Several years ago, before the economic recession, Alorica had as many as 500 employees at the Clovis center, company officials said. On Thursday, dozens of the abandoned cubicles were empty and their phones idle.
Wilson said Ryla, founded in 1999, has been on a continuous upswing in both customers and employees. "It all depends on our customers," he said. "The cellular industry is expanding."
The company is on a hiring spree nationwide, holding recruitment events seeking more nearly 2,000 employees in Clovis, Indiana, Colorado, Virginia and Alabama as Ryla takes over the operations of several other Alorica call centers.
Applicants at the open-house events are being asked to dress professionally, bring two forms of identification and their résumé, and be ready to test and interview on the spot.