A "re-energised" Manawatu Contact Centre Cluster is expecting to create close to 200 jobs in Manawatu in the next 12 months.
New contracts at existing contact centres such as EziBuy, One4All and New Zealand Taxi Communications are projected to account for the majority of the growth, with rate-payer funded big-business hunter Spearhead Manawatu also targeting more international investment in the coming year.
About 100 people from the cluster gathered at Massey University's Sport and Research Institute yesterday to hear the plans new chairwoman Anne Murrow and Spearhead manager Craig Nash have for call centres in the region.
Mr Nash told the meeting that the "amazing" potential of the region for call centres was beginning to be unlocked.
At present there are close to 1000 people employed in more than 30 call centres around Manawatu.
A survey commissioned to gain a snapshot of the depth and breadth of the workforce had found many of the centres were taking on new contracts this year.
Between 120 and 150 jobs were set to be created by those contracts, with six centres yet to participate in the survey.
With international investment possible, particularly from Australia, it could reasonably be said that close to 200 more jobs would be created within 12 months, Mr Nash said.
"The big, hairy, audacious goal is still to get 1000 new jobs for the region," Mr Nash said.
"It's the fastest growing industry in the world, people are crawling over themselves to get involved in it.
"It's still a big chase for that business - some serious players are investing a lot of money into it."
The main advantage for Manawatu in attracting new business - greater than obvious factors such as cheaper cost and the highly-skilled workforce available - was the Manawatu Contact Centre Cluster, Mr Nash said.
The cluster is the only known group of its kind in the world, made up of representatives from most of Manawatu's contact centres. They meet to discuss best practice, ways to attract new employers and increase the profile of the industry in the region.
"Our cluster is the magic that will make it work. It's the only one of its type in New Zealand and I haven't come across anything like it in the world. We are doing something that no-one else is doing, and it will make us a better business proposition for investment."
About 23 companies were now represented in the cluster, which started nearly 10 years ago.
"I came into this two years ago and it's great to see the cluster growing, it's great to see it re-energised."
- Manawatu Standard
Are you enrolled to vote?Related story: 8000 still to enrol