90 new jobs likely with Answer Fort Smith growth

A new $1.7 million call center expansion in Fort Smith could add 90 jobs within the next three years.

Answer Fort Smith has completed the renovation of a 35,000-square-foot facility and will relocate their existing call center from North A and Rogers Avenue to 5805 U.S. 271 S.

The former CV’s Grocery Store will be the new location for their fulfillment center in order to accommodate the company’s plans to triple in size. The company now employs 60 people, and during the next three years, they plan to hire 150 more workers, according to a statement from the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Answer Fort Smith has provided professional telephone answering services for more than 30 years. Services include inbound and outbound call service, virtual receptionist, medical and industrial call services, data collection, reporting, paging & repair, and RSVP Hotlines. The new facility will boast state-of-the-art communication equipment to serve customers nationwide.

“Answer Fort Smith is thrilled to relocate to this new facility and have the opportunity to put more citizens from our area back to work, Hugh “Hoot” Jones of Answer Fort Smith, said in the statement. “For more than 30 years we’ve provided professional services and with this expansion, Answer Fort Smith will be poised for a very successful future. We are grateful for the assistance and cooperation from the Fort Smith Chamber, the City of Fort Smith, and the Arkansas Economic Development Commission in helping make this project a reality.”

The Answer Fort Smith expansion is the sixth announced economic development project in the Fort Smith metro area since March 21.

Officials with Atlanta-based Phoenix Metals announced March 21 plans to invest $12 million in a new 65,000-square-foot metal processing operation at Chaffee Crossing that could employ up to 40 with an average wage of $15 per hour.

On April 4, officials with Health Management Associates (HMA) announced plans to operate a regional service center in Fort Smith that will employ more than 500 with average annual salaries potentially exceeding $40,000. Those jobs are expected to be in place within 12 months.

There are no new jobs planned, but officials with SGL Carbon announced April 17 a $26 million upgrade to their facility in Ozark. The German-based company employs more than 90 people in the Ozark plant, which produces high-power graphic electrodes that create heat in electric arc furnaces used in steel mills.

Ground was broken June 11 that will add between 20 and 40 jobs to the Van Buren economy. Officials with Tankersley Food Service, along with Van Buren Mayor Bob Freeman and Crawford County Judge John Hall, took part in the groundbreaking on the company's new $4 million addition to their Van Buren facility.

A $150 million expansion of Gerber Foods’ Fort Smith plant could add up to 90 jobs. The jobs will support a new cereal line. The Fort Smith Board of Directors approved on June 4 a bond issuance for the expansion.

Tim Allen, president of the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce, said it’s pleasing to see a small business expansion create jobs.

“Answer Fort Smith has been a great corporate citizen for many years. It’s exciting to see a home grown company expand in our community. We hear it all the time; small businesses make up the majority of new jobs in this country and it’s certainly true in this case. Fort Smith should be proud of the remarkable success story in Answer Fort Smith’s expansion,” Allen noted in the chamber statement.