IGT Technologies announces hundreds of jobs, incubator in Knoxville
India-based worldwide company IGT Technologies Inc. has chosen Knoxville for its first large U.S. facility, will invest $4 million here and create new jobs.
The company already has hired 150 employees and plans to double that in the coming months, seeking to fill roles from leadership down, COO Akhil Agarwal said at an event Wednesday. He added the company wants to create more jobs in the next five years.
This latest jobs announcement is part of a larger economic trend of IT, cybersecurity and other technology firms investing and relocating in the Knoxville area, said Doug Lawyer, vice president of economic development for the Knoxville Area Chamber of Commerce.
"If you look at our pipeline of projects right now, it’s still pretty diverse," Lawyer said. "We still have a lot of manufacturing. Distribution’s kind of quieted down a little bit, but these office, techie, R&D, engineering kind of things are certainly starting to spike up, which we love."
Tech-industry jobs are typically higher paying and help to retain talent coming out of the University of Tennessee. The 25-54 demographic in Knoxville has remained flat over the last decade.
IGT already has moved into its facility, located on Comstock Road off Bridgewater, which will include a customer experience incubation lab where it can train startups from around the country on how to deliver outstanding digital customer service.
That's more in-demand than ever, Agarwal said, as businesses leave third-party and person-to-person customer service behind.
“As more companies are moving towards self-service, there’s still the need for providing great customer experiences increasing more and more," Agarwal said. "So how do you deliver a great customer experience in a digital environment is what we’re focusing on.”
“The number of people that are available to provide customer service is unlimited," Agarwal said. "So it becomes very important for companies to differentiate, and the big differentiating factor is how do they hold on to their customers? And the only way to hold on to customers is the customer experience.”
Agarwal said the company plans to launch the incubator in the next six months, overall calling the facility one of "the best locations we have across the globe."
The company evaluated several larger cities but ultimately chose Knoxville for the local government support, the proximity of McGhee Tyson Airport, the opportunity to partner with UT and the relatively low cost of living.
Founded in 1998, IGT provides around-the-clock customer support in multiple languages. It develops software and processes around the latest customer service technologies and caters specifically to travel, retail, e-commerce and tech companies.
IGT has more than 14,000 employees nationwide. It's fast growing: About 1,000 of those employees have been hired in the last few months, Agarwal said.
The Knoxville facility will oversee operations for IGT's North American presence and will include an inbound call center. IGT has had a presence in the United States for more than 15 years and operates in 10 countries worldwide.
It will take up the entire building, a 35,000-square-foot space with room for about 360 employees, Agarwal said.
“Look at what’s going on in the great city of Knoxville and in the county. The technology corridor and the technology DNA is here,” Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development commissioner Bob Rolfe said.
Recent headlines reflect that. Worldwide firm Techstars will launch its Knoxville accelerator later this year. In May, call center company Lending Solutions, Inc., announced it would open a facility and create 265 new jobs in Knoxville, with a $2 million capital investment. In February, global tech company CGI announced it would open a support center here, creating 300 tech jobs and investing $27 million by 2026.
The announcement was made in partnership with the TNECD and the Knoxville Area Chamber of Commerce. TNECD has supported 10 projects in Knox County over the last five years, according to a press release, resulting in "1,100 job commitments and nearly $138 million in capital investment."
Source: Knoxville News Sentinel, by Brenna McDermott
The East Tennessee Economic Development Agency markets and recruits business for the 15 counties in the greater Knoxville-Oak Ridge region of East Tennessee. Visit www.eteda.org
Published August 26, 2021