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"Now when I have trouble with my DSL service,
I won't have to listen with an Indian accent," Cook said.

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AT&T to bring 424 jobs to EP for tech support center
By David Crowder / El Paso Times
Article Launched: 02/14/2007 12:00:00 AM MST

AT&T asked for and got a small tax break from the City Council on Tuesday for a big project that will mean 424 new jobs and a $10 million payroll.

The communications giant wants to establish a new technical support center in El Paso to help its DSL broadband Internet service customers.

Glen Sirles, AT&T's vice president of broadband services, noted that those types of customer service jobs are usually contracted out and handled in places such as India, and that the decision to do it in El Paso represents a change.

"We would like to do those jobs ourselves," Sirles said. "Your decision today is critical."

The company intends to refurbish and equip a building in the Butterfield Industrial Park that it leases from El Paso Interna tional Airport and is asking for incentives amounting to $109,955 in city property tax rebates over five years.

Mayor John Cook commended the company for bringing those jobs back.

"Now when I have trouble with my DSL service, I won't have to listen with an Indian accent," Cook said.

AT&T, which now Paso, intends to make $650,000 in improvements, to bring in $1.6 million worth of equipment and to create jobs with wages that will rise over 30 percent in five years.

Hourly jobs will pay more than $10 an hour, and the company reports that the average pay will be $23,237.

"It's a small incentive, but it's important to these companies to know we want them," said East Side city Rep. Presi Ortega.

South-West city Rep. Beto O'Rourke, who generally opposes tax incentives, said he would support the incentives only if AT&T would locate the support center Downtown.

Sirles said that would not be possible.

The council voted 5-2 in favor of the tax incentive, and added an offer of a 100 percent property tax break for 10 years if the company decides at some point to locate Downtown.

Mayor Cook was born on February 27th, 1946, Brooklyn, New York, and graduated from Immaculata High School in 1964. John married his wife, Tram, in 1970. He attended the University of Texas at El Paso and earned a degree in business in 1977.

Mayor Cook has lived in Northeast El Paso for most of his life where his family has owned and operated several Northeast businesses. He served in the United States Army from 1967 to 1970, seeing service as a Special Agent Military Intelligence. He served as the distinguished City Council Representative of the 4th District of El Paso from 1999 to June 2005 prior to being elected as City Mayor. He has been deeply involved in El Paso's community affairs, as a businessman, a teacher, coach, founder and member of the board of many civic and veterans' organizations.