The American Red Cross plans to consolidate its blood donor call center operations to three locations nationwide, including one in Tucson that will bring about 300 new jobs to the region.
Charlotte, N.C., and Omaha, Neb., will be the other two sites.
The Tucson call center will operate out of the new Red Cross Arizona Regional Headquarters, 3470 E. Universal Way, near South Palo Verde and East Valencia roads.
Both the call center and headquarters offices are expected to open in early June.
Hiring for the call center will occur in phases that begin this summer, said Debra Deininger, an American Red Cross spokeswoman in Tucson.
The job news comes shortly after Citigroup announced it would slash 271 jobs by the end of the year at its Tucson call center in the University of Arizona's Science and Technology Park on the southeast side.
Workers in Citi's fraud-detection unit and commercial credit-card divisions will be affected by those job cuts, a company official said.
While Tucson has seen 25,000 jobs evaporate since the recession set in, UA economist Marshall Vest said, employment numbers have begun to turn around - shown in part by the American Red Cross' new call center here.
"The hiring has begun once again and the aggregate number of jobs is now moving up," Vest said. "We are creating jobs once again."
After the Red Cross completes its hiring push for the new call center, its Arizona Blood Services Region will employ about 500 full-time workers, Deininger said.
The call-center workers will contact donors to schedule appointments and provide reminders to those already scheduled to give blood.
"They contact existing donors and potential donors and ask them to come in and donate," Deininger said.
The local Red Cross is moving from its current headquarters at 222 S. Cherry Ave. Its blood donor centers - one at 7139 E. Broadway and the other in the Foothills Mall on the northwest side - will not be affected by the move or the hiring effort.
The American Red Cross currently has 26 smaller "telerecruitment" centers nationwide, including one in Tucson. It's consolidating operations to the three new locations.
The news isn't as rosy for employees at those call centers, though. Deininger said those jobs will no longer be necessary.
As part of the consolidation, the Red Cross will relocate the 20 staffers in Tucson already contacting donors, Deininger said. Those employees are currently contacting people only in Arizona, but after the consolidation they will call donors and potential donors throughout the Southwest and along the West Coast.
When selecting Tucson, the Red Cross considered the availability of skilled labor, property costs and economic incentives offered by the city.
While some may have the image of call centers providing low-skill, low-wage jobs, that perception isn't accurate for many in Tucson, said Laura Shaw, a spokeswoman for Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities.
Call centers here have become a strong core for economic development and employment in Tucson, Shaw said.
"Call centers nowadays are very high-tech," she said. "They're much more advanced and they look for a higher-skilled employee."
Contact reporter Dale Quinn at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4197.