As published in Toledo Business Journal - June 1, 2015
OhioMeansJobs offices on Monroe Street in Toledo
Competition for a large economic development project was significant as sites around the country were considered by HSN, Inc. (HSNI is the parent of Home Shopping Network) for a major expansion. Selection of northwest Ohio for this 300-plus new job creation opportunity was the result of important advantages the region had over other areas of the country and a great deal of effort from a team of professionals from across northwest Ohio.
“We embarked on a journey to do an expansion for our business close to a year and a half ago. We worked with a third party entity that provided assistance through this search process. There were over 100 different regional areas that made the list of alternative locations that were considered. Quite a bit of work was done to reduce this to a shorter list for further examination.
“During our work with the shorter list of locations, we were fortunate that our third party partner introduced us to the Regional Growth Partnership. We would never have been able to make all of the connections and set up all of the necessary meetings with the many workforce development professionals and others without their efforts,” explained Kellie Brady, operations vice president of talent acquisition, HSNI.
HSNI, headquartered in St. Petersburg, Florida, is a $3.6 billion interactive, multichannel lifestyle retailer. The company has an innovative work-at-home program though its Home Shopping Network (HSN) subsidiary that will provide both full-time and part-time jobs to individuals around northwest Ohio. Currently, HSN’s work-at-home program employs more than 1,300 in the St. Petersburg, Florida; Roanoke, Virginia; and Nashville, Tennessee areas.
“It is really important that people in northwest Ohio understand that we are a highly reputable company offering a great employment opportunity to selected candidates in the area. Unfortunately, there are companies that are not reputable who attempt to use a work-at-home situation to take advantage of unsuspecting individuals. We have had to put extra effort into getting the word out that we provide fair compensation and benefits and a great work situation for members of our team,” Brady emphasized.
The Regional Growth Partnership (RGP) and other local economic development organizations in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan have put significant effort into building working relationships with site selection consultants around the country who play an important role in the selection of sites for large development projects. RGP has invested significant time and resources in identifying and working with a large number of site selection consulting firms in the US and overseas.
One site consulting firm with which RGP has worked is Site Selection Group (SSG) located in Dallas, Texas. The firm was retained by HSNI to assist in its decision to initiate a major expansion of its work-at-home call center resources. In a conversation with SSG, the Regional Growth Partnership learned that HSNI was seeking an area where the company would locate and hire approximately 200 full-time employees and another 100 part-time personnel. RGP was able to get northwest Ohio under consideration for this project as a result of its contact and work with SSG.
RGP offices in Edison Plaza
RGP’s success in working with SSG to get northwest Ohio on the list of possible candidate sites was simply a “foot in the door.” Much work followed as HSNI sorted through alternative locations around the country.
RGP played an important role in pulling together a workforce investment coalition that offered to provide HSNI with on-the-job training support, as well as additional employee recruiting and screening assistance programs.
Critical to the company’s decision was the ability to obtain a capable workforce. With its work-at-home program, the company made the decision to consider, for northwest Ohio, candidates anywhere in the 419 and 567 area codes. This large tract of geography crosses a number of county borders in the region.
In order to be able to work with HSNI officials and to satisfy their human resource needs, a team of northwest Ohio professionals was brought together to support this development project effort. A critical partner in this project was the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (ODJFS) and its Office of Workforce Development. This organization has a number of OhioMeansJobs Centers in northwest Ohio. HSN’s interest in recruiting employees from a multi-county area involved a number of senior managers from each of these OhioMeansJobs county offices. Some of these OhioMeansJobs team members included Carolyn Rodenhouer, Hancock County; Mary DeWitt, Wood County; Michael Veh, Lucas County; and Joseph Patton and Erin Sellers, Allen County.
“We worked across county lines on this project as the client is setting up a virtual call center and identified a large area for recruitment. One of the important things about these jobs is that because it is a legitimate work-from-home situation, it is more accessible for a lot of potential employees. The company includes benefits with its compensation for full-time employees. Also, HSN will provide training for new employees and it is not a sales position that only pays commissions. It’s really a decent job for someone looking for work,” stated Michael Veh, senior manager, special projects, OhioMeansJobs Lucas County.
“HSN was very open to different ideas and they relied a great deal on OhioMeansJobs as they were from outside of this area,” stated Mary DeWitt, workforce administrator, OhioMeansJobs Wood County. “I am excited that the company picked our region as I know that they were looking at a number of other areas outside of Ohio. I have met with some of the early candidates after they interviewed with HSN for these jobs. These individuals were very excited about this job possibility.”
“I’ve been a work-at-home employee for nine years and I’m so proud to be part of this innovative and exciting program” said HSN work-at-home rep Stacy Salmon. “After having been a stay-at-home mom for many years, it gives me the ability to join the workforce again while still being able to balance my work time and my family time.”
The work-at-home program offers employees the opportunity to work virtually in the customer care department from the comfort of their own home, while providing sales and customer service support to HSN customers.
“HSN is proud to provide the opportunity for employees to work from home while providing the best call quality experience for our customers,” said Rob Solomon, executive vice president, customer care and operations administration, HSNI. “We are excited to bring our fourth program to northwest Ohio, an area that has proved to be welcoming and hospitable in our short time here.”
“We are delighted that HSN has chosen northwest Ohio to expand their e-commerce business bringing hundreds of jobs to the Toledo area,” said JobsOhio managing director Glenn Richardson. “Along with the Regional Growth Partnership, we are excited that HSN has already begun hiring, and we look forward to seeing Ohioans contribute to HSN’s continued growth and success.”
“A number of factors contributed to our decision to select northwest Ohio for this large expansion. We felt that the area and its residents aligned very well with the culture of our company. Also, we spent a lot of time examining and understanding the workforce in the area and believe that there is a very good supply of the type of employees that we are looking for to fill these jobs. In addition, it was helpful to our decision to obtain the economic development incentives that will assist us with training these new employees,” concluded HSNI’s Brady.
HSN is still interviewing candidates who have access to a land line phone and computer, strong computer skills, customer service resolution skills, and a positive, upbeat personality.
The program offers important employee benefits as well as discounts at HSN along with parent company HSN, Inc.’s seven Cornerstone brands (Ballard Designs, Frontgate, Improvements, Garnet Hill, Chasing Fireflies, Travelsmith, and Grandin Road).
HSN broadcasts live to 95 million households in the US in HD 24/7 and its website is a top 10 most trafficked e-commerce site, featuring more than 23,000 product videos. HSN was founded 37 years ago as the first shopping network.