by: Jim Strickland Updated:
ATLANTA - The Georgia Department of Labor said call center jobs in the state have increased by one-third since 2007, largely because outsourced calls have returned to Georgia centers.
Customers of natural gas marketer Gas South used to have calls routed to Canada. After first finding local contractors to take the calls, the company recently bought its own call center and added 100 staff members, including Allen Stewart.
"I was unemployed six months. I got on with Gas South. I was very excited when I got the call," he said.
Company officials said 98 percent of the time customers are now getting the answers they need with a single call.
"The agent is empowered to handle their call or their issue and there's no reason to transfer it to a supervisor or another party," said Gas South Vice President Meredith Hodges.
A recent report from Georgia Power said since 2006, 20 call centers had either expanded or located in the state, adding 6,400 jobs.
It's working for AGL Resources. Its calls used to go to India. Now, customers from Georgia and four other AGL markets end up calling Clayton County.
"It's one of the first statements I would hear, 'It's good to hear an American voice instead of someone I can barely understand,'" said employee Brenita Simmons.
AGL Resources created 74 jobs in locating the center in Riverdale in 2010.
Jim Young, who spent ten weeks out of work, got one of those jobs.
"We're getting close to retirement. We got some grandkids and the fact I was going have a pay check again; it was great," Young said.
Home Depot also opens a call center with 350 jobs next month in Kennesaw, though spokesman Steve Holmes said the company has not used overseas operators in six or seven years.