A Spokane Valley call center company plans to add about 400 jobs in the next 18 months, Greater Spokane Inc. said Friday. Newtown, Pa.-based ICT Group Inc.’s expansion is expected to bring in more than 300 customer service positions and 70 management employees – a welcome announcement in a week when many Spokane-area workers lost jobs and hundreds of others learned of potential layoffs.
Spokane manufacturer EZ Loader Boat Trailers, which employed about 140 people, recently laid off 10 employees and temporarily closed its shop this week, said Bill Lang, vice president.
Olympic Boat Centers in Spokane Valley laid off the last of its 18 employees this week. Airplane component maker Triumph Composite Systems in Spokane is expected to lay off more than 200 workers next week because of a Boeing Co. Machinists strike.
And Liberty Lake-based cabinetmaker Huntwood Industries is laying off about 20 workers because of the residential construction slowdown, according to the Washington Employment Security Department.
A Huntwood representative declined to comment Friday.
With offices in the former U-City Mall, ICT Group has employed call center workers to support companies such as Virgin Mobile and AOL.
The jobs will pay more than $10 an hour, said Jeff Severs, chief operating officer of Greater Spokane Inc., which acts as the region’s chamber of commerce.
ICT Group will receive $340,000 in state money from Gov. Chris Gregoire’s strategic reserve fund to use for training, officials said. It is the second Spokane-area company to receive money from the fund, said Robin Toth, Greater Spokane Inc.’s business development director.
The money comes from unclaimed lottery prize money for “strategically important” economic development, said Marc Baldwin, policy adviser to the governor. “It is explicitly a deal-closing fund,” he said.
ICT Group expansion will support its contract with phone company Sprint, said April Perry, of the Washington state Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development. An ICT Group representative could not be reached for comment Friday.
ICT Group started adding jobs in December, Toth said, though it is unclear how many it already has hired. In June, ICT Group employed 475 here, she said.
She expects hiring for the new jobs to take place within 12 to 18 months.
Port St. Lucie, Fla.-based EZ Loader, which has a plant at 717 N. Hamilton St., shuts down periodically, Lang said.
“The industry is pretty slow, so we closed down for a week to build up backlog,” Lang said.
“They’re all coming back to work Monday. We’ve got a nice three-week backlog, and things are just back to normal business.”