BRISTOL, Tenn. (WJHL) — Advanced Call Center Technologies (ACT) will add 650 total jobs to its Tri-Cities workforce and fill an empty call center as the company opens new “inbound contact centers” in Kingsport and Bristol.

“These are new projects serving new clients of ACT,” NETWORKS-Sullivan County CEO Clay Walker told News Channel 11 Monday. ACT has more than 2,000 current employees at sites in Boones Creek and Johnson City.

One of the sites will occupy the former Agero call center. That company still has a large number of employees in the area but shifted its model to home-based work during the COVID-19 pandemic and has decided to retain it.

Walker said local leaders teamed with people from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD) and worked on the new project for about a year after the company told them it was growing and would need new call center space wherever it ended up.

“Agero needed out of their lease, which was coming up for renewal, so we told the property owner,” Walker said.

The building met ACT’s needs for one of the new call centers, and with the state “deeply involved in both of these deals,” Walker said the other one landed in Kingsport’s Holston Medical Group headquarters building.

“They’re already hiring people and they’re serving clients in Kingsport,” Walker said.

He said workforce was a particular focus for ACT.

“Workforce is everybody’s issue,” he said. “They still felt confident enough in our labor to choose this location.”

ECD Commissioner Bob Rolfe agreed.

“In Tennessee, we are fortunate to have a skilled workforce that is capable of meeting the needs of the companies that call our state home,” Rolfe said.

ACT’s CEO, Hunter Croft, said 20 years of success in Johnson City had helped ACT develop “appreciation for these thriving communities (of the Tri-Cities).”

Croft said ACT and the industry face “explosive market demand for skilled customer experience employees.”

ACT is employee-owned and Croft said the new centers will offer competitive pay and benefits, including shares in the company.

“We’re confident that our company culture and values will be a great fit for the hardworking people of Bristol and Kingsport, and we’re proud to join these special communities at a very exciting stage in our organization’s growth,” Croft said.

Bristol Mayor Mahlon Luttrell said while filling an employers’ building that comes on the market is always a positive, “it often means the loss of jobs for a community.

“In this case, not only do we have one contact center with several hundred people who are now able to work from home thanks to our fast and reliable fiber infrastructure, but we’re also welcoming a new partner bringing roughly 400 jobs to fill vacant seats at that facility.”