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October 29, 2013
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Editorial: Oregonians' vanilla voices give Roseburg a taste of steady employment

Language in the United States comes in many aural variations. The following are from honest-to-Pete comments heard within the past several years across the nation.

In a diner in Portland, Maine, a server glancing at pro football on TV asked her boss what team was represented by the initials SD. His answering bellow: “The San Diego chahjahs!”

In a driveway in Ames, Iowa, a father getting ready to take out-of-towners for a spin exclaimed, “Garsh, the car needs warshed.”

In Arkadelphia, Ark., a woman who grew up during the Depression told some West Coast natives that she didn’t have a bedroom closet as a child. She used a peg instead, she said. All three guests misinterpreted her soft tones, prompting the question, “You hung your clothes on a pig?”

If accents in the Northeast, Midwest and South can be likened to an array of bright colors, the palette gets washed out here in Oregon. Our speech patterns would probably be described at best as beige.

But there’s something to be said for a neutral accent. In fact, that’s why there’s a lot to be said here in Roseburg — and the speakers are getting steady paychecks and in no small part because of their voices and personalities.

Managers at Roseburg’s First Call Resolution and Telecommunications Management System say the two companies, which employ 300 and 500 people, respectively, say the city and its environs provide plenty of workers for an industry dialing up in vigor.

Not only do people seeking customer service through 800 numbers like to speak to a person instead of a recording, but they also prefer that person to be shorn of a regional dialect.

Or, as First Call Resolution co-founder Matthew Achak told News-Review reporter Garrett Andrews: “Anyone can use us because we sound like everyone.”

Douglas County offers other incentives for the call centers, according to its representatives. The county in August logged an 11 percent unemployment rate, the sixth-highest in the state. That contributes to an eager workforce ripe for mining, one that in addition lags behind most other counties in per capita income.

Another plus point lies in the foresight of economic development groups that brought improved broadband to Oregon through the expansion of fiber optic cable. Reliable Internet service helped keep both anchors tethered to Roseburg. Easy access to another type of network — Interstate 5 — has played a role as well.

All these factors have helped the two employers burgeon with accounts ranging from insurance companies to infomercials. And even with a client such as Dyson, a call center doesn’t flourish in a vacuum. Douglas County workers benefit, as do the communities where they shop, play and use services.

The tangibles are encouraging. So is something just as important — hope. If Roseburg can provide the raw materials for companies that report they’ve grown by 50 percent (TMS) and 30 percent (FCR) in the past year, what can other employers accomplish here?

We’d love to see the two call centers generate enough buzz to connect more county residents to new positions.

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The News-Review Updated Nov 4, 2013 10:25AM Published Oct 30, 2013 11:54AM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.