Discover opening call center in low-income Chicago neighborhood

Discover opening call center in low-income Chicago neighborhood

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Discover will build its newest call center on Chicago’s South Side on the site where a Target store closed two years ago, bringing 1,000 jobs to a beleaguered urban zone by 2024.

The Riverwoods, Ill.-based financial services giant will hire its first class of customer service agents for the center beginning in June, providing jobs that pay at least $17 an hour, in an effort to revitalize the area, Discover said Thursday.

The move comes after Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot called for companies to spread job opportunities and investments to needy neighborhoods beyond downtown.

The Chatham neighborhood where the call center is being repurposed is about 98% Black, according to the U.S. census, and Discover purchased the vacant lot next door from Target to provide space for community organizations, Discover noted.


The new call center, located near major bus and subway lines, expands Discover’s facilities for its exclusively U.S.-based customer service workforce, Discover said.

Discover’s other call centers are in Phoenix, Salt Lake City and Columbus, Ohio, which each have about 2,000 employees; another, in New Castle, Del., employs 1,000 people, Matthew Towson, Discover’s director of community affairs, said in an email.

The decision to base the new call center on the South Side of Chicago fits into Discover’s “Together We Rise” initiative to drive an equitable recovery in the aftermath of the pandemic, Discover said.

“Discover recognizes that traditional corporate site selection has contributed to issues of unequal opportunity in our society, and we want to be part of the solution,” said Roger Hochschild, Discover’s president and CEO, said in a press release.

The Chicago call center will be led by Juatise Gathings, who grew up in Chicago’s Roseland community and has worked at three of Discover’s call centers over nearly a decade working at the company, Discover said.

The first wave of 15 employees will be hired in June with plans for the center to open in 2021, gradually expanding headcount over the next three years.

Discover’s call center jobs include a minimum of 20 paid days off, 401(k) matching, free college-level education, tuition reimbursement plus on-site health and wellness programs.

“These are great jobs coming to Chicago and this is a big win for South Side residents,” said Marie Trzupek Lynch, president and CEO of Skills for Chicagoland’s Future, a public-private partnership matching businesses and job seekers.

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