Delta Air Lines' call reservation center, one of the most anticipated corporate developments in Augusta in recent years, officially opened Monday to an enthusiastic crowd of business leaders.
Although the 25,000-square-foot center has been operational for more than a month, the ceremony gave many locals their first glimpse inside the $3 million facility off River Watch Parkway near Interstate 20.
Many of the 150 people attending were employees of the center, which by July is expected to employ a total of 200 local people and 20 Delta managers imported from other areas of the country.
About 100 people staff the facility, which handles customers' service calls and telephone reservations from across the country.
Delta, which announced it would locate here last May, someday could expand the center to handle international calls, possibly creating more jobs, said Lee Macenczak, Delta Vice President of Reservation Sales.
"I like that word: expansion," Augusta Mayor Bob Young said after Mr. Macenczak's remarks.
Officials from Delta, Augusta Technical Institute and the state Department of Technical and Adult Education signed an agreement giving the call center free training services through Georgia's Quick Start program.
"I feel like we're signing a treaty," Mr. Macenczak joked before the lineup of photographers and news cameras.
Local Georgia Department of Labor officials said the Delta jobs have been among the most sought-after they have seen, adding that nearly 4,000 people from the area had applied for the positions.
The single-story, brick-and-glass complex is the first building to locate at the sprawling River Shoals property sandwiched between River Watch and Augusta Canal.
The owner of the 150-acre parcel, California-based Brandenburg Properties, has hired Bert Storey & Associates, an Augusta-based developer, to market the property.
Plans for the property have come and gone through the years -- developers even considered building a mall there -- but completion of the Delta call center ensures a portion of the property will be a corporate office park, Mr. Storey said.
"Somebody has to do something to make things start to happen," he said. "We think (Delta) will be the catalyst."
Damon Cline covers business for The Augusta Chronicle. He can be reached at (706) 823-3486.