The Newsletter: Kitsap County hits the jackpot in the battle for call centers

Nextel Communications will put its new call center in the county, generating as many as 500 jobs. The decision marks 2½ years of work by the Kitsap County Regional Economic Development Council.

The centers have sprung up around the Northwest in places such as Boise, Spokane and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Their appeal? Above-minimum-wage jobs for the youngest and newest in the work force. Nextel will pay $9.50 to $10 an hour.

Nextel’s center, set to open in August, will be built on a 7.2-acre site along state Highway 303. It will handle customer-service calls from the Northwest and Northern California.

Nextel said a strong work force (military spouses, military retirees, community-college grads and Seattle commuters) was a key factor. The company also cited the work by the Economic Development Council.

Turns out the Harris Group, an engineering-design company here, is much larger than I originally reported. Its revenue last year was just over $76 million from all its major market sectors. I used a $12.3 million figure last week, but that was just for its pulp- and paper-industry work.

Harris also is one of the fastest-growing companies in its industry – sixth-fastest in the country in one recent ranking. Its revenue last year was more than double its 1997 sales of $36 million. International business has been strong for the company, with more than 100 employees in its St. Petersburg, Russia, office. The company has just opened an office in Jacksonville, Fla., with an eye toward business in the Southeast.

Hard times in the tech world? Maybe, but maybe you’re just looking in the wrong place. Check out this list of winners in the annual awards presented by the Washington Software Alliance.

  • Business Product of the Year: digiMine, delivery of data warehousing and data mining.
  • Consumer Product of the Year: RealNetworks, RealPlayer 8, the gateway to the best audio and video programming on the Internet.
  • Internet Product of the Year: F5 Networks, 3-DNS, intelligent traffic-management product for distributed Internet sites and data centers.
  • Most Promising New Company: Viathan, storage infrastructure software.
  • Most Innovative Service Provider of the Year: Aventail, Aventail Net managed service integrates people, process and technology.
  • Best Web Site: AtomFilms, (, a thriving, dynamic platform for next-generation entertainment.
  • Outstanding Contribution to the Community: Cleveland High School Infotech Infusion, technology-enriched educational experiences through a partnership of Cleveland High School, the community, higher education and industry.

Too much too soon? After last week’s half-point reduction in interest rates by Federal Reserve policymakers, some analysts are looking for yet another cut. One possible date is Feb. 13, when ChairmanAlan Greenspan offers his semiannual testimony on Capitol Hill.

But most Fed watchers don’t expect any moves before the next meeting March 20 and perhaps not until April. The Fed will wait and see what happens with a tax cut – there is a danger of overstimulating the economy with too much easing and too big a tax cut.

It takes as long as six months for policy shifts such as lower interest rates to begin to show up in the economy.

Sign of the times. Consolidated Edison in Illinois said it will begin to charge a deposit from folks who build so-called Internet hotels intended to house thousands of computers.

These facilities use a lot of juice, as much as 100 watts a square foot. Under the new program, the utility may charge anywhere from $500,000 to $10 million as a deposit before installing the necessary infrastructure. After five years as a customer, the developer will get the deposit back with interest.

By: Stephen Dunphy

Source: The Seattle Times / PDF

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