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RE: Locations
July 2003


Reno, Nevada: A Lucky Spot For Contact Centers

By James Beatty, NCS International, Inc.

Be honest'when you think of Reno, Nevada, what immediately comes to mind? Casinos, gambling, slot machines, keno, 21, roulette and other games of chance? You're only part correct. This city of almost 187,000 people in Washoe County, Nevada has not only those opportunities, but you may be surprised to know that it has a thriving, growing call center industry as well. Over 50 companies (at last count) have found the area to be quite conducive to business growth and development while also delivering world-class customer service and generating new sales and revenues. Thanks to the offices of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN), I was able to spend a few days visiting several of the call center enterprises in the community and talk to many corporate executives in the area about their experiences in operating call centers, administrative support centers, technical support centers and customer service centers.

EDAWN, as it is best known in state and national economic development circles, is a non-profit public/private partnership created to work on behalf of companies looking to launch, expand or relocate operations to the Reno/Sparks/Lake Tahoe area. Working closely with EDAWN is the economic development group at Sierra Pacific Power Company, an investor-owned utility which provides electric gas and water service and stands ready to service even more call center operations moving to the community.

Following are some facts for you to review and consider about the area.

Population
According to the Nevada Department of Taxation and the Nevada State Demographer's office, the numbers are:
Reno: 186,883
Sparks: 71,753
Washoe County: 353,271

The Reno/Sparks MSA population average growth rate was 3.0 percent from 1980 to 1989, 2.8 percent from 1990 to 2000 and 3.3 percent growth from 2000 to 2001, which was almost three times the growth rate for the United States during those same periods. Ancedotal information suggests a number of people moving from California to the area.

Age Distribution
In the population most likely to be employed in call centers, the Reno/Sparks MSA boasts the following numbers:

Age GroupNumbers of Persons
20-2423,677
25-34 49,088
35-44 56,040

Racial Profile
White 73%
Hispanic or Latino 17%
Black 2%
Asian 4%
Native American 2%

Income
Household Income
Under $15,000 13%
$15,000 - $24,999 17%
$25,000 - $34,999 20%
$35,000 - $49,999 21%
$50,000 - $74,999 19%
over $75,000 12%

Per capita income in the Reno MSA/Washoe County has grown from $28,603 in 1995 to $34,879 in 2000.

Labor Force
The labor force in the Reno MSA was 195,600 as of April 2003 compared to 197,300 in April 2002, representing a 1.7 percent decrease, with decreases being recorded in the leisure and hospitality industry, but with increases in the financial services industry and the services-producing sectors. This means that new call centers in the market will likely draw workers from the hospitality and gaming industries. The result will be the availability of workers with great customer service skills and backgrounds, as well as workers with information technology skills on which the gaming industry is based.

It should be noted that the 24-hour, 7-day-a-week worker availability is a part of the local workforce due in large part to the gaming industry. This works favorably for those centers seeking a 24x7 workforce.

The April 2003 unemployment rate was 4.7 percent, with 9,200 people seeking employment.

It is interesting to note the projections by the Nevada State Department of Employment with the following predictions from year 2000 through year 2010:

  • Management occupations will increase from 13,150 to 17,147,
  • Business and financial occupations will increase from 5,155 to 6,726,
  • Sales and related occupations will grow from 22,977 to 28,933, and
  • Office and administrative support will grow from 38,039 to 45,906.

The educational institutions in the area are also a great source for workers. The University of Nevada Reno has 13,510 students, and the Truckee Meadows Community College has 10,750 students enrolled. Both institutions offer an additional labor supply as well as educational and technical assistance to employers in the area.

Nevada Is A Right-To-Work State
Additional valuable resources are available through NevadaWorks, which is the northern Nevada workforce board. It targets federal and private resources to assist employers in developing and training employees. This organization coordinates the efforts of all training partners to provide maximum response to meet employers' needs. The Nevada JobConnect, an agency of the state, provides up-to-date job postings and a reliable system for anyone in the U.S. to review these jobs and e-mail or fax their resumes to Reno for employer consideration. The people I spoke with in this office were extremely committed and dedicated to responding to the employers and the job applicants.

Wages
Some selected wage data for the year 2000 for the Reno MSA are compiled and provide some interesting comparisons:

  • Retail industry average annual wage is $21,619, with an average weekly wage of $416,
  • Service industry average annual wage is $28,521, with an average weekly wage of $548, and
  • Hotels and gaming average annual wage is $22,134, with an average weekly wage of $426.

Many of the call centers related that their starting wages were in the $8.00 to $10.00 per hour range. According to one survey conducted by a local staffing company, an average call center wage is $9.35 per hour.

Call Centers
There are 53 call centers in the area, employing over 3,600 people. Based on my conversations with many of the call center executives, they are planning growth and predict no problems in finding new people to fill the jobs. Some of the larger call center employers are Wells Fargo, West Teleservices, Harley Davidson, Excel Communications, America West, Intuit and SBC, each with several hundred agents.

Table 1 provides you with information on the variety and functions of call centers in the Reno area. It is interesting to note that several of these centers have multilingual agents and offer customer support in both Spanish and Japanese.

Telecommunications
There are multiple telecommunications providers in the area, with extensive fiber optics availability, including Nevada Bell, part of the SBC Global network, and Sierra Pacific Communications. The telecommunications infrastructure in highly digital and redundant with excellent Internet access and wireless capabilities which are in some cases present in selected buildings. AT&T, MCI and Sprint have points of presence in downtown Reno.

It is worthy of mentioning that the Reno Tahoe Tech Center (RTTC), encompassing some 70 acres and 850,000 square feet of Class A office space, is being developed and will have the latest technology advances available, including a point of presence and fiber optics. Redundant Networks is another company bringing state-of-the-art telecommunications and data facilities to Reno. The company will provide highly secure colocation data centers with bulletproof glass, walls laced with chemical fiber and backup systems. This system will be duplicated in Reno and in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Office Space
Class A office space in the Reno central business district ranges from $16.20 to $24.00 and Class B ranges from $14.40 to $16.80 in the same area. Outside the central business district space ranges from $18.00 to $19.20 for Class A space to $13.20 to $14.00 for Class B space.

Reno Recognition
Reno has been recognized for its business attractiveness by a variety of entities.

  • The Milken Institute rated Reno as one of six emerging technology centers in the U.S.,
  • The American Electronics Association ranked it second in high-tech job growth,
  • Inc. magazine has ranked Reno as one of the best places to start and grow a business, and
  • Forbes-Milken Institute ranked Reno as one of the top 50 places for business and career advancement.

Expanding your call center to Reno would be a great move. This area has shown admirable growth and stability, coupled with an exceptionally pro-business environment. To find out more about the area, contact EDAWN at www.edawn.org.

I always welcome your comments and ideas for new subjects regarding locations. Remember to visit www.callcentersites.net, the official site for call center and back-office information worldwide for the latest announcements on locations for call centers. You can e-mail me at any time at jbeatty@callcentersites.net.


NAME INDUSTRY TYPE OF CENTER
Alee medicalcustomer service
America West airline reservations
American Call Center service bureau customer service
Answerwest answering service customer service
Apria Health Caremedical customer service
BHC service customer service
Bonanza Nuts & Bolts manufacturing customer service
CDS Health Caremedical customer service
Charter Communications cable customer service
Circus Circus casino customer service/sales
Cisco Systems financial customer service
Comm'l Tele Exch service customer service
Credit Payment Systems loans customer service
Darby Group service sales
Employers Insurance Co. loans customer service
Excel Communications service customer service/sales
Gizmo Wireless telecomcustomer service
Harley Davidson insurance customer service
Hartford insurance customer service/sales
Henry Schein wholesale customer service/sales
Hilton casinocustomer service/sales
Hometown Healthmedical customer service
Horizon USA wholesale customer service
Infosearch service customer service
Inter-Tel telecom customer service
Intuit software customer service
JB Dental wholesale sales/research
MDA service customer service
Microflex manufacturing sales
Nevada Wireless telecom sales
Norwood manufacturing customer service
Omnitrition wholesale sales
ORC service customer service
Patagonia manufacturing customer service
Quadravision cable customer service/sales
Reno Disposal service customer service/sales
RGJ media customer service/sales
RSR wholesale customer service/sales
SBC (Nevada Bell) telecom customer service
Sierra Pacific utility customer service/sales
Sportif wholesale customer service/sales
State Farm insurance customer service
Summit Racing wholesale sales
Tele-com service customer service
Trinet payroll customer service/sales
Tessco service customer service
UDS Innotrac fulfillment customer service
United Blood Services service customer service
University of NV Reno fundraising sales
UNR Surgery Center research research/survey
Wells Fargo banking customer service/sales
West Teleservices service customer service/sales
Zhermackmedical customer service/sales

[ Return To July 2003 Table Of Contents ]


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