By Chuck Cannon, Fort Polk Guardian staff writerAugust 16, 2010
ALEXANDRIA, La. -- One of the biggest issues facing Army spouses is starting over in a new job - with a new company - every time their Soldier makes a permanent change of station move.
Not only does the spouse have to start at an entry-level position - often meaning less money - they also usually lose whatever benefits they might have accumulated at their previous job.
"For a lot of people who need that second income, this is a big concern," said Jennifer Walker, whose husband, Staff Sgt. Jason Walker, is a Soldier stationed at Fort Polk, La. "They know when they get there they have to begin looking for a job immediately, because they can't apply before they get there."
To help remedy that concern, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, along with Fort Polk Garrison Commander Col. Francis Burns and Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce President Elton Pody, announced a venture by National Electronic Warranty Customer Services Inc., or NEW, that will create 200 new, direct jobs in the Alexandria/Fort Polk area over the next two years.
The jobs will be home-based customer care representative positions, and the company will target individuals in Central Louisiana to fill these positions. Louisiana Economic Development estimates that the 200 direct jobs will generate nearly 100 new, indirect jobs, for a total impact of nearly 300 new, direct and indirect jobs in Central Louisiana. And one of the more important features about the jobs is that when an employee moves, since the job is home-based, they can take the job with them, keeping their seniority and accumulated benefits.
"When I took office in 2008, we set out to create a New Louisiana," Jindal said. "This New Louisiana would have a skilled workforce, growing businesses, newly created jobs, and an economic environment unhindered by harsh taxes, red tape and regulation from the government. We have made tremendous progress toward these goals by fundamentally working to build a better Louisiana for our children. Indeed, NEW's decision to invest in Central Louisiana reflects our commitment to economic development and the success of our pro-growth policies to build a better Louisiana for our children."
Jindal said Fort Polk was one of the main reasons NEW selected Central Louisiana.
"Fort Polk provides the company with an untapped workforce that is a great fit for NEW's customer care representative jobs," Jindal said. "Ultimately, this project will create flexible, home-based jobs that will result in a better quality of life for many stationed at Fort Polk, their Families and the people of this region. Fort Polk is part of the fabric of Louisiana and job wins like NEW are critical to helping the men and women who serve our country."
He also thanked the leadership at Fort Polk for their efforts in bringing NEW to Central Louisiana.
"I want to thank (Brig.) General (James) Yarbrough, (Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk commander), and Colonel Burns from the Fort Polk community," Jindal said. "Their work on this project helped us secure these jobs and the reality is Fort Polk is absolutely critical to this region. We must do all we can for these Soldiers and Family members who sacrifice so much for us on a daily basis."
Burns called the announcement a "blow for freedom." Perseverance was the key to bringing NEW to Central Louisiana, Burns said. "Thanks to all of you for keeping this idea viable and on the table over the past year," he said. "NEW's arrival in Central Louisiana and the local efforts to bring them here epitomize the promise we made to our Soldiers and Family members when signing the Army Community Covenant, a formal commitment of support by state and local communities to help improve the quality of life for our Soldiers and their Families."
Burns said the home-based program could tap a valuable resource - the skills and talents of military spouses. "This is an opportunity that our spouses - every bit the heroes their Soldiers are - truly deserve," Burns said. "For years now, they've faced myriad challenges: Dealing with long separations while their Soldier is at war; raising the kids singlehandedly; living in an area where the job opportunities are limited. They are the strength behind the Army's motto of 'Army Strong.'"
Diana Veseth-Nelson, whose spouse, Capt. Adrian Veseth-Nelson, is stationed at Fort Polk, said she is encouraged by the new jobs coming to the Fort Polk area. "I think this is a great example of how this area cares about its Soldiers and its commitment to the Army Community Covenant," she said.
Jindal said Fort Polk and Central Louisiana's potential workforce were two of the primary factors that NEW considered during its site selection process. NEW will begin interviewing for these positions immediately, and the first virtual training program will begin in September. A,A A,A
LED Secretary Stephen Moret said, "We recently have been strengthening our partnership with Fort Polk to enhance its attractiveness to the U.S. Army as a strategic growth location, as well as to help improve quality-of-life offerings for members of the military who serve there. The jobs that NEW will create will further enhance the attractiveness of Fort Polk to service members based there by expanding flexible job opportunities available for their spouses."
Mitch Carroll, vice president, contact center sources, NEW Customer Service Companies Inc., said it is rewarding, especially during these economic times, to enter new markets across the U.S. and bring new jobs into communities.
"Our work-at-home program has generated outstanding results for us for the past five years," Carroll said. "We are thrilled to work with communities like Alexandria and Fort Polk who support the skill set and work ethic we are looking for to deliver outstanding customer care."
"We are grateful for the opportunities NEW will provide not only to the residents at Fort Polk, but also to all the people in Central Louisiana," said Rick Ranson, vice president for economic development for the Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce.
NEW is headquartered in Sterling, Va. It is a leading provider of extended service plans, buyer protection services and product support for consumer products, providing coverage to more than 150 million consumers. The company delivers customer care and product support 24 hours a day from 10 company-owned call centers throughout North America, in addition to its extensive work-at-home program.
NEW is hiring home-based customer care representatives to take inbound customer service and support calls. As a home-based CCR, employees help customers from the comfort of their home, answering their questions, troubleshooting problems with their product and arranging service or replacement as needed. The job offers a variety of schedules, hourly pay and the opportunity to work from home. Through a variety of technologies and a supportive management team, NEW brings together a diverse group of employees to create a virtual team environment similar to its brick and mortar sites. There are virtual chat rooms that allow CCRs to access support, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, should they need assistance.
To learn more about NEW visit www.newcorp.com/index.php/careers.