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March 09, 2006

Tucson, Ariz., Citibank call center to hire 400, Citigroup officials say

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(Arizona Daily Star, The (Tucson) (KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) Mar. 7--Financial giant Citigroup Inc. will hire 400 people to staff a new Citibank customer-service call center at the University of Arizona Science and Technology Park, officials announced Monday.

The new call center at the UA's park, 9040 S. Rita Road, will bring the number of Tucson employees of New York-based Citigroup to about 1,600.

Starting wages will range from $10 to $14, with benefits that include health plans, life insurance, 401(k) retirement plans and tuition reimbursement, said Randy McDonald, Citigroup's Tucson Site president.

Citigroup's introduction to Tucson's workforce came less than two years ago with its Citi Cards call center. The success of that center led the company to open the Citibank unit, which will provide inbound and outbound customer service, McDonald said.

Tucson's labor pool has impressed Citigroup, for both its quantity and its quality, McDonald said.

"We started in June of 2004 with nobody, and we're up to 1,200 people here in 20 months, and the quality of those people has been fantastic," he said. "If you compare some of the business results here with some of the sites we've had in operations for over 20 years, we're rivaling those folks." Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup said he fully expects the company to continue to expand in Tucson, given the quality of the local workforce.

"Frankly, we're proud that you made this decision, but we're not surprised," Walkup told McDonald. "We knew that this would be a hallmark site for your corporation." Four hundred new jobs in Tucson will have a significant impact on the local economy, to the tune of about $15 million a year, said Joe Snell, president and CEO of Tucson Regional Opportunities Inc., or TREO.

While such expansion announcements often don't generate the buzz of luring an out-of-town employer to Tucson, the local economy is built on the expansion of companies with an existing presence such as Citigroup, Snell said.

"At the end of the day, it's companies like Citigroup that have already proven themselves here, that have invested their money over the years, that really help us beyond words when they expand here," he said.

The Citibank service center represents an additional $8.3 million investment into Tucson for Citigroup, McDonald said. The new business unit will occupy 37,000 square feet in the tech park's Building 9040, adding to Citi Cards' existing space of 116,000 square feet in Building 9060.

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