The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

September 25, 2013

StarTek reboot: Call center renovating building, key staff hired ahead of a formal announcement

By Dale Denwalt, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — More than a year after shutting down operations, a call center that once employed hundreds of people is planning a return to Enid.

A spokeswoman for StarTek confirmed there are renovations being done at the company’s 116 E. Randolph location. The lobby of the call center remained dark Wednesday, visible through dusty windows wiped half-clean with graffiti.

There also are two job postings on StarTek’s website: one is for an Internet technology technician and the other is for a human resources professional.

Rosemary Hanratty, StarTek director of marketing, said the company also is seeking a manager. Former site director David Whyburn died in August 2012.

At the time it closed in March 2012, StarTek employed 213 people in Enid. The facility is designed to be an inbound customer service call center. The lack of a client is the reason StarTek shuttered the building. Rumors swirled earlier this year about a return, but the company was reluctant to confirm it.

StarTek did, however, meet with former employees to find out whether they’d be willing to return to work. Even then, they didn’t have a client lined up.

An official announcement of the return could be released within a few days. Hanratty said StarTek is awaiting final word it has secured a contract to provide customer service representation.

“We certainly do have a client in mind and we’re working toward that,” she said.

The number of employees StarTek expects to hire has not been announced yet.

Enid lured StarTek here 13 years ago with an incentive package worth millions. Voters passed a quarter-cent sales tax that would have been worth $2.5 million. The incentive was paid back to the company in quarterly increments equal to a percentage of how much it spent on payroll. The company initially planned to have 500 employees within its first three years in Enid.

Employment numbers never materialized, though, and StarTek only received about $1.8 million in payroll subsidies between 2002 and 2009.

At this point, it does not appear StarTek is pursuing another incentive deal. Brent Kisling, executive director of Enid Regional Development Alliance, said he hasn’t heard anything about it.

“They have certainly not approached me, and I am not aware of any conversations they have had with the city,” Kisling said.

Kisling oversees the primary agency in Enid that coordinates economic development plans.