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Home Depot Bringing Jobs to Cobb

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ATLANTA (AJC)-The Home Depot plans to open a new customer support call center next year in Cobb County, bringing with it 700 jobs. The project is the largest jobs announcement in the state this year.

The facility will be based in the Chastain Meadows commercial office park in Kennesaw north of the Town Center mall, and plans to be operational by late 2012. The call center will open with about 400 jobs and expand to 700 jobs by 2015.

Recruiting for the jobs is also expected to begin next year. The average salary for customer service representatives, who will provide support for the company’s  online retail operations, will be in the mid-$30,000s range, said Blair Lewis, a senior official with the state’s Economic Development Department.

The home improvement company has 90 stores in the state with 20,000 associates, and it is headquartered in Cobb County.

“When that same company decides to expand their operations by bringing hundreds of new jobs to Cobb, well, that sets the tone for Cobb’s future as the best place to grow business in the Southeast,” said Tim Lee, Cobb’s Commission chairman.

Wednesday’s announcement comes as the economy continues to struggle and unemployment rates remain high. Georgia’s unemployment rate is 10.3 percent, compared with the national rate of 9.1 percent.

Cobb’s unemployment rate of 9.5 percent has been helped by 26 company relocations and expansions this year, worth $248 million in new investments and 3,093 new jobs, according to the county’s Chamber of Commerce. The chamber is working with its economic development partners on 19 active projects with a potential of more than 10,000 new jobs and $853.5 million in potential new investment.

State and local officials hailed this project’s economic development benefits.

“It is encouraging to see one of Georgia’s pioneering Fortune 500 companies take full advantage of our competitive business advantages to expand here in our state. This is great news for Georgia and the metro Atlanta region,” said Gov. Nathan Deal, calling Home Depot a “Georgia success story.”

State economic development officials, along with county and chamber representatives, had been working on the deal for more than a year.

Home Depot considered locations across the country for the new center and settled on Kennesaw because of its proximity to higher education centers such as Kennesaw State University, and the county’s strong employment base, said company spokesman Stephen Holmes.

To land the Home Depot deal, Cobb will give the company about $2.2 million in county property tax breaks over 10 years, according to Brooks Mathis, economic development director for the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, along with caps on permitting and licensing fees. The project also received a $500,000 Regional Economic Business Assistance grant from the state.

The call center is part of Home Depot’s push to boost its online business and consolidate and expand its customer support services around the country. Last month, the company announced plans to close a support center in Baton Rouge, La., and move the jobs to a new Utah location scheduled to break ground later this year, which is also employing 700 people.

The company also is closing a service center in St. Louis with 200 jobs. It is too early to speculate on how many employees from other locations would apply for the Kennesaw positions, Holmes said.

Staff writer Arielle Kass contributed to this article.

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