The Owensboro City Commission has granted Alorica a one-year extension on when the company would start receiving cash incentives based on its total payroll.
The cash incentive of $250,000 for six years was supposed to kick in on Jan. 1, 2020.
However, City Manager Nate Pagan said Alorica, which operates a call center out of the former BB&T building at 234 Frederica St., approached the city about revising the original 2016 deal, which was based on the payroll of having at least 550 employees at $10 per hour. That total payroll was set at a minimum of $9,734,400.
The amended version approved during Tuesday’s City Commission meeting changes the total payroll that’s now based on 400 employees at $13 per hour that starts Jan. 1, 2021. The new payroll target is $10,816,000 for Alorica to receive the annual $250,000 cash incentive.
“I think they’ve had a little bit more of a challenge to recruit and retain employees than they expected,” Pagan said. “I think that’s indicative of a strong, local economy.”
According to Susann Boorse, Alorica’s senior site director, the inbound customer call center currently employs 348 people.
Boorse said the call center supports third-party clients and their customer service needs. And the company recently added two new clients, allowing Alorica to raise its starting wage to $12.50 during training and $13 after training is complete.
She attributed low employment rates and competition with other large employers as factors in not meeting its staffing goal. According to state unemployment rates, Daviess County dropped from 4% in September 2016 to 3.4% in September 2019.
“Unemployment has definitely changed since the inception of launching our site here in Owensboro,” Boorse said. “There is healthy competition in the area. And in speaking with other employers at Rooster Booster and just out in the community, I know a lot of others are struggling with the exact same concerns of finding the employees to fill the positions that are open.”
When the Alorica announcement was made on Sept. 21, 2016, it was called the largest jobs announcement in the city's history, with a potential of more than 800 promised at its peak.
During Tuesday’s City Commission meeting, Mayor Tom Watson said amending the agreement “seemed like the right thing to do.”
“As difficult as it is to find help, especially good help with the employment numbers that we have, we felt that the only right thing to do was to extend them for one year and give them an opportunity to make their numbers at that time,” Watson said.
In an effort to boost its employee count, Boorse said the company participates in career fairs at the local public high schools as well as virtual online career fairs with Indeed.com.
But it also offers a weekly walk-in Wednesday hiring event from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. that could fast-track someone into a job at Alorica.
“It’s an open-door walk-in, and they’re able to apply at our recruitment area,” Boorse said. “We usually have at least four recruiters on staff. They can go through the entire (hiring process) by applying online, go through the screening and potentially even be interviewed.”
When the six-year term begins in 2021, Pagan said the cash incentive is year-by-year, meaning the company must meet or exceed the set payroll of $10,816,000 to receive the $250,000 for that particular year.
"If they fall short by 10 bucks, they get nothing," Pagan said. "It doesn't prorate or anything; it's all or nothing."
Don Wilkins, email@example.com, 270-691-7299