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
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.
According to the Nevada Department of Taxation and the Nevada State
Demographer's office, the numbers are:
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.
In the population most likely to be employed in call centers, the
Reno/Sparks MSA boasts the following numbers:
|Age Group||Numbers of Persons|
Hispanic or Latino ||17%
Native American ||2%|
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.
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
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.
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
- 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
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.
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
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.
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.
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 has been recognized for its business attractiveness by a variety of
- The Milken Institute rated Reno as one of six emerging technology centers in
- 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
- 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
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
|NAME|| INDUSTRY|| TYPE OF CENTER|
|Alee ||medical||customer service |
America West ||airline|| reservations|
American Call Center ||service bureau|| customer service|
Answerwest answering ||service|| customer service|
Apria Health Care||medical|| customer service|
BHC ||service|| customer service|
Bonanza Nuts & Bolts ||manufacturing|| customer service|
CDS Health Care||medical|| 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 ||telecom||customer service|
Harley Davidson ||insurance|| customer service|
Hartford ||insurance|| customer service/sales|
Henry Schein ||wholesal||e customer service/sales|
Hilton ||casino||customer service/sales|
Hometown Health||medical|| 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|
Zhermack||medical|| customer service/sales|
To July 2003 Table Of Contents ]