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  1. Default I See Oklahoma City Becoming...

    So a few pieces of bad news have been dampening the holiday spirits of Oklahoma City. Last year, our Christmas lump of coal was GM shuttering its Oklahoma City vehicle assembly plant. But why be surprised? They did it to Michigan, and many other North American plants. Chances are, like many motor companies, cheaper labor will be sought after over seas. Don't even expect any of this to change. Just as we were sobering up from the loss of some 2,000 good paying jobs, Dayton Tire decided to follow suit by announcing it was idoling the Oklahoma City tire plant. A double whammy. Not good. Another 1,500 good paying jobs gone. Dayton blames tough competition and a decrease in demand in its line of tires. Honestly, I expected GM's Oklahoma City plant to close its doors after they retooled the plant to manufacture SUV's. And as far as Dayton Tire is concerned, if their tires are back in high demand, they'll knock on our door and ask if they can have their help back.

    Then comes AOL. America Online. The rotary phone of the internet, a company that became so dependent on dial-up internet services that they didn't lay out a proper roadmap for the future. Take it from an IT guy, that's poor planning. And they left AOL's Oklahoma City call center hanging on dial up instead of adapting to the high speed world and getting gung-ho on competition. Yes, AOL DOES offer high-speed internet, but they are late in the game thanks to Road Runner, Cox High Speed, AT&T, and a laundry list of other companies jumping on the band wagon years ago. So, AOL decided it would close its doors in Oklahoma City, laying off yet another 1,300 employees who mostly did tech support over the phone. After the AOL announcement, I noticed from here in Texas that people in OKC began to wonder if the local economy is trouble?

    Think about this. Vehicle manufacturing is no longer a dependable source of income for a community, not in paychecks or tax collections. Anytime a company goes belly-up, the administration stays and the plants go elsewhere. As far as AOL is concerned, they were simply a call center. And yes, Dell is also a call center but their plans for their company campus go far beyond what AOL had invested in our city, so I'll let them be. However, I don't feel that plants and call centers are the economic answer anymore. Not for Oklahoma City. It's not our goal. It shouldn't be our goal. What city leaders should be and have been focusing on long term are company headquarters, financial institutions and bio-technology. All are nearly resistant to the typical layoffs industrial cities face, and those cities with such a base recover quickly from the economy. I see Oklahoma City as a city where companies are based and thrive, where new companies are born and where employees aren't clocking in for the assemly line, they are walking into an office with their latte in our hand, a brief case in the other hand and their laptop ready to be fired up. Just ask those who work for Devon, Chesapeake, Sonic (HQ), OG+E (HQ) and a number of smaller firms. They are already doing just that. We already have the government base (again, administrative, although not high-paying), and now it's time to focus hard core in company headquarters and start-up capital, as well as continue strong support for companies already here.

    okcpulse.com - Oklahoma City's Online Magazine December 2006 Edition
    Continue the Renaissance!!!

  2. #2

    Default Re: I See Oklahoma City Becoming...

    Nobody doubted our community's economic success because of AOL. That must be your interpretation up in Texas. Thanks for the post, though.

  3. #3

    Default Re: I See Oklahoma City Becoming...

    I read AOL is in talks with several companies to take over the call center there so the actual layoffs might be much lower...Sure current employees are actually happy to possibly have a new employer from what I hear about the work environment

    OKC can continue on our way to being the nation's mecca of call centers...He** yeah!!

  4. Default Re: I See Oklahoma City Becoming...

    700 jobs in an economy of about 400,000-job economy is a blip. If you just consider the call center economy,you'll see that these workers can find similar positions elsewhere.

    OKC is smartly trying to diversify its economy. But bringing headquarters of other places is a false option. We need to be starting these companies and helping them grow. That's how an economy is supposed to develop. They don't necessarily have to be Fortune 500 in size, but offering something to the OKC market and international market that's different and/or better than what's already out there. Portland doesn't have many Fortune 500 companies, but they have smart people that aren't afraid of making things happen. As okcpulse said, we need people creating and innovating instead of just assembling.
    Continue the Renaissance

  5. #5

    Default Re: I See Oklahoma City Becoming...

    Yeah, I don't see that as a possibility but a reality. OKC and every other city is aware that manufacturing and other labor jobs are going overseas, its just a matter of time. AOL is no exception with dial-up going the way of the dinosaurs. As you mentioned, our city leaders have been planning some time for this, that is why our unemployment rate is lower than the national average. Our average is 3.5 percent. Easy 180 had it right, AOL as well as Mayor Cornett (have both been in contact with several companies ready to take over AOL's space and move their operations here). The Mayor and AOL have been doing it in talks of their own, not as a collaborative effort. I'm confident the jobs will be replaced with hopefully more stable ones.

  6. Default Re: I See Oklahoma City Becoming...

    Quote Originally Posted by okcpulse View Post
    And yes, Dell is also a call center but their plans for their company campus go far beyond what AOL had invested in our city, so I'll let them be.
    Never assume what is behind the doors. I know several people that work there and about half of the operation there would be considered your typical call center like operation. However, call centers are typically powered by hourly paid workers...most at Dell are salary. I guess to those that don't really have any connection to inside the doors there, won't really know what takes place in there.

    Never assume that because it is a big box setup that it is just another call center.

  7. Default Re: I See Oklahoma City Becoming...

    Quote Originally Posted by venture79 View Post
    Never assume what is behind the doors. I know several people that work there and about half of the operation there would be considered your typical call center like operation. However, call centers are typically powered by hourly paid workers...most at Dell are salary. I guess to those that don't really have any connection to inside the doors there, won't really know what takes place in there.

    Never assume that because it is a big box setup that it is just another call center.
    Does anyone know if Dell used the Oklahoma Quality Jobs Program?
    That's the corporate welfare pla......oops....I mean business incentive program that the state uses to woo companies to our state.


    On edit: I Googled the question and the answer is of course they used the Quality Jobs Program!
    Oklahoma Department of Commerce Statistics

    ----------------

  8. #8

    Default Re: I See Oklahoma City Becoming...

    Yes they did use that program as you have found out. It cracks me up how many people try to talk up the Dell call center over AOL or any other call center. The fact is it is still a call center no matter what you call it or what you title the positions. Yes, some of the workers are on "salary" but when you break it down to an hourly rate, it isn't that much compared to any other call center. People can get a job there with a high school diploma or a GED just like every other call center. Yes, they do have management positions and others I'm probably not aware of but so does AOL, Farmer's and every other call center. The difference is DELL is adapting to the changing future unlike AOL.

  9. Default Re: I See Oklahoma City Becoming...

    Some of the generalizations people use here for call centers really need to be looked at. Knowing what I know, you could argue that several other corporate offices here in OKC are nothing but call centers. Yes, part of it is the traditional call center operation...there are other parts that are nothing like a call center. The bitter grumpy people that formerly worked there I've come to find are those without the skillset to get out of that traditional call center gig into something more lucrative. I have friends in both sides...its definitely not as bad as the "call center" stigma this site likes to dish out.

  10. Default Re: I See Oklahoma City Becoming...

    I assure you, I got my bitterness and grumpiness without ever having to work in a call center.

  11. Default Re: I See Oklahoma City Becoming...

    Quote Originally Posted by venture79 View Post
    Some of the generalizations people use here for call centers really need to be looked at. Knowing what I know, you could argue that several other corporate offices here in OKC are nothing but call centers. Yes, part of it is the traditional call center operation...there are other parts that are nothing like a call center. The bitter grumpy people that formerly worked there I've come to find are those without the skillset to get out of that traditional call center gig into something more lucrative. I have friends in both sides...its definitely not as bad as the "call center" stigma this site likes to dish out.
    Fill us in!

    -------------------------

  12. Default Re: I See Oklahoma City Becoming...

    It is my understanding that call centers typically start employees out at a low wage, say, $9-$10. Am I incorrect? I do know that there are employees at call centers make more, but my concern is the wage that follows, not the call center in and of itself.
    Continue the Renaissance!!!

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