Business

Waste Management call center welcomed

Adrienne Beebe, left, Becky Ogren, center, and Sarah Sonnenfeld, of the Oak Harbor High School Flute Trio, play at Waste Management’s ribbon cutting ceremony. - Jenny Manning / Whidbey News-Times
Adrienne Beebe, left, Becky Ogren, center, and Sarah Sonnenfeld, of the Oak Harbor High School Flute Trio, play at Waste Management’s ribbon cutting ceremony.
— image credit: Jenny Manning / Whidbey News-Times

Thirty-six Waste Management call center graduates settled into their second-floor cubicles Thursday afternoon, overlooking Harbor Station.

Downstairs, Waste Management western group staff, Island County Commissioner John Dean, Oak Harbor Mayor Jim Slowik, and Oak Harbor city council members Jim Campbell and Beth Munns joined about 50 other people who attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for Waste Management’s newest and largest call center in North America.

Oak Harbor High School students Ver Starr, Paul Derting, Robert Beadles and Brandon Maragrag played trombone, and flutists Sarah Sonnenfeld, Adrienne Beebe and Becky Ogren entertained the crowd with their musical talent.

“We chose this area for its opportunity for growth,” Duane Woods, senior vice president of the company’s western group, said, adding that he’d like to bring even more jobs to the community.

So far, 70 of the 105 employees are trained, and the call center is taking 4,000 calls a week. By April, Woods expects the center to field 20,000 calls each week.

The center not only benefits Oak Harbor’s community with added jobs, Woods noted, but the city will receive about $5.4 million in tax revenue over five years.

“It’s always great to see a ray of sunshine given all the doom and gloom,” Larry Williams, interim director of Washington state Department of Community Development, said, alluding to the world economy.

Williams attended the event on behalf of Gov. Chris Gregoire, who sent a letter of congratulations to Waste Management.

“This project was made possible through the dedication and diligence of many local, state and federal partners, and I am extremely proud to have been part of the effort, allocating $50,000 from my strategic reserve fun for workforce training,” Gregoire wrote.

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