Mci `Homecoming' Means Jobs 2 Earth City Centers Will Employ 1,200 New Workers

By Jerri Stroud Of The Post-Dispatch Mark Schlinkmann Of The Post-Dispatch Contributed Information For This Story. | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), August 8, 1997 | Go to article overview

Mci `Homecoming' Means Jobs 2 Earth City Centers Will Employ 1,200 New Workers


Jerri Stroud Of The Post-Dispatch Mark Schlinkmann Of The Post-Dispatch Contributed Information For This Story., St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


MCI Communications Corp. is bringing 1,200 jobs and a $36 million investment back to its roots 29 years after the long-distance telephone company sent its first signals between St. Louis and Chicago.

MCI said Thursday that it would lease a new, 240,000-square-foot information technology center just north of Interstate 70 in Earth City and a 100,000-square-foot call center for its credit and collections department next door. Together, the two centers will employ about 2,000 people by the end of next year.

"This is kind of like a homecoming for MCI," said Lance Boxer, chief information officer for the company, which is based in Washington.

In 1968, Microwave Communications Inc. built its first private microwave system, which provided low-cost voice and data communications to truckers traveling between St. Louis and Chicago.

The company later changed its name to MCI and went on to become the nation's second largest long-distance company and the third largest carrier of international traffic. Global sales last year were $18.6 billion.

"It's only fitting that we should return here now," Boxer said.

The technology center will develop customer solutions and new products, including such things as software that would make local, long-distance, cellular and paging service work together seamlessly. It also will work on new applications for calling cards.

State and local governments are giving MCI $12.5 million in incentives for the new center. The state is putting up most of the money: $5.8 million in training grants, $4 million from the Build Missouri infrastructure program and $2.3 million in various tax credits and linked-deposit loans.

Gov. Mel Carnahan hailed MCI's decision to build the center here as "a great step forward" for St. Louis and Missouri. "These high-tech jobs are just the kind of jobs we want to attract to Missouri. We are successfully competing for the jobs of the future."

County Executive George R. "Buzz" Westfall and St. Louis Mayor Clarence Harmon called the effort to bring the MCI center to St. Louis a stellar example of regional cooperation. State and local governments and development organizations have been working with MCI since October on a deal to lure the new center here.

MCI expects to hire about 1,000 computer scientists, electrical engineers, computer programmers and other professionals for the information technology center, which will have about 1,200 employees. Average salaries in the technology center will be about $50,000. …

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