There will soon be an additional 80 employees at Neosho’s Scholastic call center.

There will soon be an additional 80 employees at Neosho’s Scholastic call center.

During a press conference at 11 a.m. today at the Hale McGinty Business Development Center, Gib Garrow, the city’s economic director, along with Jeff Maxwell, chairman of NABIFI and Neosho Mayor Richard Davidson, announced the expansion.

“In 2008, Scholastic had 350 when they went into the spec building in Neosho’s industrial park,” Garrow said. “Since then, they have added 150, which is now up to 500 and this 80 would put them up to 580. We are pretty pleased with that.”

Hiring will be in July and August of this year.

“I think that one of the things that Neosho has that is unique to a lot of communities is the diversity in employment, diversity in industry and business,” Garrow said. “You can be in health care, you can be in cell manufacturing, just about anything. The reason that Scholastic invests in Neosho is because of Neosho’s workforce. We have one of the best workforces around.”

Davidson said he was also pleased and welcomes the new jobs to the area.

“The city would like to congratulate Scholastic and their continued expansions,” the mayor said. “It will be an important part of our economic base. It is exciting to see jobs coming to our community, given the overall economic climate that we see across the country.”

In addition to the new hires in Neosho, Scholastic will add 40 positions in Jefferson City in existing space, bringing the total number of office and warehouse employees in Jefferson City to more than 1,500 during the peak season.

These moves are part of a consolidation plan to centralize call center functions into two facilities and close the Moberly call center when the lease expires on April 29, 2011. Current Moberly call center employees are invited to apply for new positions in Neosho and Jefferson City or for open positions in the Moberly packaging center, which will continue operations. Scholastic employees in Missouri answer more than 6 million customer calls each year and deliver 194 million books into the hands of children worldwide.

Davidson said he talked to Jefferson City’s mayor after the announcement by Scholastic late Wednesday and also shares his feelings about the jobs.

“While we hate to see any city in Missouri lose jobs, like Moberly did, we are equally happy for those jobs (to stay) in Missouri, especially landing here and Jefferson City,” Davidson said.

Maxwell thanked numerous people who helped put together the lease and the building cost for this project. He also thanked the seven financial institutions who shared the $1.6 million financing in the 2008 improvements. They are Arvest Bank, Boulevard Bank, Hometown Bank, Southwest Missouri Bank, Community Bank and Trust, U.S. Bank and First Community Bank.

“At that time, this helped to keep the 350 jobs in Neosho and these banks will again participate in financing the $200,000 in improvements that will help create an additional 80 new jobs,” he noted.

Steve Marble, vice president of customer service for Scholastic and a former manager at the Neosho center, said the company has enjoyed both “reliable and talented workforces” and “great relationships” with area economic development teams since opening service centers in Jefferson City in 1968 and Neosho in 1998.

“We look forward to bringing even more local workers into the Scholastic family to provide best-in-class service for our customers,” he said in a prepared statement.