Franklin lands Verizon Wireless headquarters

Thursday, August 23, 2007 at 12:42am

Verizon Wireless is creating a $54 million regional headquarters facility in Cool Springs, and will add 600 to 700 new employees over the next three to five years, company and state officials announced Wednesday.

Jerry Fountain, Verizon Wireless’s president of the Tennessee and Carolinas regions, said other areas in the state were considered for the facility, but he declined to name them.

“Nashville works for us very, very well,” Fountain said.

Andrea Arnold, a spokesperson for the state, said details of state tax incentives have not yet been finalized. A tax abatement program applying to city of Franklin and Williamson County property taxes is expected to be established.

The new facility will be able to employ as many as 1,300 by the time it is fully operational in 2008, Fountain said, in job functions including business services, sales, financial services, IT, human resources and network operations. Salaries will start at $26,000 and likely average approximately $40,000, Fountain said. The new, 180,000-square-foot building is currently being developed by Duke Realty Co., and will be located on Duke Drive in Cool Springs.

Verizon Wireless’s 550 Nashville-area employees — most of whom currently working at Grassmere Office Park — will be among the first to work at the new office. About 600 to 700 more workers will be hired over the course of the next three to five years. There is also “potential” for employees from other states to work at the office, Fountain said.

The approximately 1,000 employees at Verizon Wireless’s Murfreesboro office will be unaffected. In total, Verizon Wireless employs more than 2,200 statewide.

Verizon Wireless will begin recruiting for new jobs in early 2008, with employee training starting in the summer months. More information will be provided later this year to those interested in applying for jobs.

Fountain said the establishment of a state headquarters was prompted by the company’s success in Tennessee. The company has invested $545 million in the wireless network here in the last four years, and demand continues to grow.

“We’re doing this because we had to,” Fountain said.

Government officials including Gov. Phil Bredesen, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, Franklin City Mayor Tom Miller and Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson joined Fountain in making Wednesday’s announcement. Bredesen said the company’s high-tech industry was an appealing aspect of the jobs added to the state’s economy.

“This announcement today shows that innovative, technology-focused companies are finding a welcoming business climate in Tennessee,” Bredesen said in a statement.

The largest U.S. wireless company and largest wireless data provider, based on revenues, Verizon Wireless is headquartered in Basking Ridge, N.J., with 67,000 employees nationwide. The company is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). Last year, Verizon Wireless announced plans for a new, high-tech state headquarters and call center facility in Huntsville, Ala., with up to 1,300 jobs and an investment of more than $44 million to the area. That facility will open next month.

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By: JeffF on 12/31/69 at 7:00

while we argue over baseball stadiums....