SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - Oregon has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. Now one Lane County company is providing hundreds of new jobs in a tough economy.
It's not the final answer, but the travel and cruise industry is helping "anchor" a jobs comeback in Lane County. The good news is unfolding at Royal Caribbean in Springfield.
"That brings that balance to $1390.41," the friendly new call taker said over the phone on Thursday.
On the other end was another satisfied customer at the expanding Royal Caribbean call center. They're looking for 140 new employees to go through training between now and November 1st.
In total the expansion has brought a 60% addition to the Springfield call center from 2 years ago. Total staff at the center tops 600, with more coming to port.
Trade support director Rita Stolze says the slowly improving economy is just part of the story.
"We are really transitioning some jobs to this market, so we can fill up the building and utilize this fabulous facility as well," explained Stolze.
Across town at the Chamber of Commerce, director Dan Egan remembers another chapter in the Royal Caribbean's history.
"We were kind of worried that there would be no Royal Caribbean in Springfield." Egan said.
These were fears business leaders had during the depths of the recession--but Egan said the call center is now a big assist for economic development.
"Just being known that there is a Symantec and there is a Royal Caribbean in Springfield gives confidence to other businesses saying, well, if they came here, there must have been a good
reason for them to look at Springfield," explained Egan.
Like the wave-shaped roof at Royal Caribbean, this rising tide of new hires is happening at exactly the right time as the company heads into the busiest time of the year. In the cruise business they call it "the wave."
"Yes--that's the time. Our wave season generally runs from January to March
or April, right in that time frame." said Barbara Otonicar in the H-R department at Royal.
All in all--steering the course for a local economy that needs a little extra steam. As more customers book cruises, Royal Caribbean wants to build the staff up to 900 at the call center.