The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

January 12, 2013

Rep. Byron Cook visits Capgemini in Palestine

By CHERIL VERNON
Palestine Herald-Press

PALESTINE — Touting the opportunity for growth in Capgemini’s Palestine Service Center (Service Center Solutions) — including the 300 seats available for potential clients — Capgemini officials gave Texas State Rep. Byron Cook a tour of their facility Friday.

Also on hand for the tour was Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) Executive Director Karen Robinson.

“We are very proud of our center. It accommodates 600 seats. We are using 131 seats now and have 300 seats available — lots of room for growth,” Capgemini Vice President Mark Stein said during the tour.

The 44,000 square-foot Capgemini building currently supports four different clients: State of Texas, Oncor, Blackhawk Network and Farmland/Smithfield Foods.

The center, established by Capgemini in 2006 originally with a single client, currently houses 131 seats in the following disciplines: Tier 1 and Tier 2 help desk, contract center for inbound/outbound sales support using phone, web and email; and billing and revenue management.

For the State of Texas, the Palestine center has 21 hired positions providing Tier 1 help desk, incident management and knowledge management capabilities.

With its resources, the Palestine Service Center can provide the following services: resource pool capabilities including utility, retail and media clients; contact center (inbound/outbound support and sales calls; web, email, chat and interaction management services; specialty services and regulatory services; Tier 1 and Tier 2 help desk support); and billing and revenue management, including billing exceptions and reconcilations.

Burnett Specialists Vice President Rick Burnett, whose company works with Capgemini to help provide qualified staffing for the Palestine center, told Cook during a briefing before the tour about the unique opportunities in Palestine due to its skilled work force.

“When a company is looking for a call center with onshore capabilities and competitive pricing, we are here for them,” Burnett said. “Within a 30-mile radius there is a  population of 95,000 where we can provide a skilled work force to multi-point clients. We have 32 cities represented here where we can recruit and pull from community colleges and towns. We can recruit local talent and teach them world-class training skill sets we need.”

Palestine Service Center Site Manager Karen Sweeton echoed Burnett’s sentiments about a skilled work force existing in the local area.

“As a multi-client site, one of our clients is based out of California but we are serving them here in Palestine. We have had great success in the talent pool no matter what area we are looking for whether it be tech support, financial services or providing excellent customer service,” Sweeton said. “Many of our employees have been here since the beginning and have been able to move up the career ladder. And for college grads, we are giving career opportunities right here in our backyard.”

By partnering with the Palestine Economic Development Corp and local community colleges including Trinity Valley Community College and Navarro County Community College, the colleges — when asked — have been able to provide for the needs of potential clients who are looking for a particular skill set.

“We have really nice partnerships with the local community,” Sweeton said.

Some employees have even had the opportunity to travel internationally through their employment with the Palestine Service Center, Sweeton said.

“We have found college graduates who are staying here to work in their local community instead of leaving for a bigger city to find jobs,” Sweeton said. “We also are finding people coming from the big cities and settling down here and staying for the opportunities we have right here.”

Following the tour, Cook was encouraged by the center’s potential for growth.

“I believe it’s important to see if this could create more opportunities and jobs for the local area,” Cook said.

The DIR provides statewide leadership and oversight for management of government information and communications technology. Since its inception in 1989, the DIR has been responsible for the state’s strategic direction for technology along with the development and enforcement of technology policies and standards for state agencies. The agency has been given additional responsibility to manage and deliver information technology services. DIR’s main services include information security, eGovernment (including Texas.gov), communications technology services, technology sourcing office, data center service and technology planning and policy.