Business Expands Call Center

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Parker and Associates is launching Silvercare, a call center that provides leads for insurance agents servicing people 65 and older. Company officials say the expansion, fueled by changes in Medicare plans, should be in place by next month.

"We have 60 people employed now. Expansion is to be in full operation on June 27," said Gary Davison of Silvercare. "We'll employ close to 150 people, and the expansion growth to that by the end of the year will be roughly 200 employees."

Davison said the payroll should jump from around $2 million to $4 million in 2007. Business leaders say the impact will be significant.

"Silvercare means to Meridian its presence in the call center market. Call centers are a new form of economic development that we have not seen in the past, but it's a new area for economic development that we're interested in getting into," said Skip Scaggs, manager of business development for the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation.

Meridian Mayor John Robert Smith said recruiting call centers has been a focus of the state of Mississippi, seeing it as an untapped market where the state could perform well.

"We had to be very adaptable in the use of this space, which the city staff has done," said Smith. "But then we also had a set of incentives that we could offer and job tax credits. And we had that legislation passed this past session that applies virtually only to Meridian. We think that was a strong point in Silvercare locating here."

Smith said Meridian now has its foot in the door of an industry, where demand will continue growing.