Ab­bott, Trump laud jobs plan un­veiled last year,

But ca­ble com­pany says pres­i­dent still de­serves credit for its con­fi­dence.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Bob Sech­ler bsech­ler@states­man.com

Flanked by Texas Gov. Greg Ab­bott and top ex­ec­u­tives of Char­ter Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Fri­day lauded and took some credit for the broad­band com­pany’s plans to hire about 20,000 U.S. work­ers — in­clud­ing 600 for a bilin­gual call cen­ter in McAllen — al­though much of the ex­pan­sion had been an­nounced be­fore his elec­tion.

“We’re em­brac­ing a new eco­nomic model — the Amer­i­can model,” Trump said dur­ing the White House meet­ing. “You are go­ing to see thou­sands and thou­sands and thou­sands of jobs and com­pa­nies and ev­ery­thing com­ing back into our coun­try.”

The pres­i­dent said Char­ter has now joined many other com­pa­nies “that have re­cently an­nounced bil­lions of dol­lars in in­vest­ment and thou­sands of jobs com­ing into the United States fol­low­ing my elec­tion vic­tory.”

Ab­bott also gave Trump credit on Fri­day.

“First, I’m proud of you,” he told the pres­i­dent. “We have a pres­i­dent who is liv­ing up to his cam­paign prom­ises, and that is to cre­ate more jobs but also to cre­ate more jobs by re­turn­ing jobs from over­seas back to the United States.”

Ab­bott said the McAllen call cen­ter is a “win for the pres­i­dent, it’s a win for Char­ter and it’s a win for the great state of Texas.”

Char­ter, based in Stam­ford, Conn., has had plans for a num­ber of years to re­lo­cate its in­ter­na­tional call cen­ters back to the U.S., which it has said would cre­ate 20,000 new U.S. jobs, and it also un­veiled plans last Au­gust for its first bilin­gual call cen­ter in McAllen. Trump was elected pres­i­dent in Novem­ber and took of­fice in Jan­uary.

But the com­pany said Fri­day that Trump right­fully de­serves credit be­cause, in ad­di­tion to its hir­ing plans, it now in­tends to in­vest about $25 bil­lion in new

in­fra­struc­ture in the U.S. It noted that it pre­vi­ously hadn’t put a mone­tary es­ti­mate or a time frame around its in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ment but now in­tends to com­plete it and the hir­ing within four years.

“It’s due to the con­fi­dence we have in the dereg­u­la­tory poli­cies of the ad­min­is­tra­tion and the FCC,” Char­ter spokesman Justin Venech said.

Last Au­gust, Char­ter CEO Tom Rut­ledge said dur­ing a con­fer­ence call with fi­nan­cial an­a­lysts that the com­pany had “al­ready be­gun in-sourc­ing ef­forts” that “will re­quire that we hire 20,000 peo­ple, train them, and equip them with trucks, tools and test equip­ment, and house them in new and ex­panded fa­cil­i­ties,” ac­cord­ing to a tran­script of the call.

Rut­ledge said then that the process “has al­ready started, as we are build­ing Char­ter’s first Span­ish-lan­guage call cen­ter in McAllen, Texas, with ap­prox­i­mately 600 seats,” ac­cord­ing to the tran­script.

On Fri­day, Rut­ledge re­peated much of those plans as he stood be­side Trump, who was seated at his desk, with the ad­di­tion of the $25 bil­lion fig­ure and the fouryear time pe­riod.

“We’re ex­cited about the op­por­tu­nity in the right reg­u­la­tory cli­mate and the right tax cli­mate to make ma­jor in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ments,” Rut­ledge said.

He and other Char­ter ex­ec­u­tives who par­tic­i­pated in the event Fri­day said the McAllen call cen­ter will open next month, and about 100 peo­ple al­ready have been hired for it.

The call cen­ter even­tu­ally will em­ploy about 600 peo­ple and be Char­ter’s first bilin­gual fa­cil­ity, they said.

Call cen­ter jobs at Char­ter pay $15 an hour, on av­er­age, and also come with health­care ben­e­fits, re­tire­ment ac­counts and dis­counted or com­pli­men­tary Spec­trum ca­ble ser­vice, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany.

Char­ter bought Time Warner Ca­ble last year in an es­ti­mated $55 bil­lion deal. Rut­ledge said Fri­day that about half of the calls com­ing into Time Warner were be­ing han­dled by in­ter­na­tional call call cen­ters, but said Char­ter is in the process of re­lo­cat­ing all of them to the U.S.

A spokesman for Ab­bott’s of­fice did not re­spond Fri­day to a re­quest for com­ment.

‘We’re ex­cited about the op­por­tu­nity in the right reg­u­la­tory cli­mate and tax cli­mate.’ Tom Rut­ledge Char­ter CEO

EVAN VUCCI / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Gov. Greg Ab­bott lis­tens at left as Char­ter Com­mu­ni­ca­tions CEO Thomas Rut­ledge speaks to re­porters out­side the White House in Wash­ing­ton on Fri­day, af­ter meet­ing with Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. Char­ter has long planned to re­turn out­sourced call cen­ter jobs to the United States.

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