$550,000 grant from Maine Quality Centers Funds Initiative Through Southern Maine Community College

By Ramona du Houx – June 10th, 2010 ·

PlumChoice today announced it has entered into a partnership with Southern Maine Community College and Maine Quality Centers, both part of the Maine Community College System, in an initiative to train and employ 350 Maine residents as work-at-home service technicians. The effort, facilitated by the non-profit economic development group Maine & Company, is funded by a $550,000 Maine Quality Center grant that will provide customer service and certified Microsoft and Apple systems training at no cost to accepted students.

Representatives of PlumChoice, Maine & Company, Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) and Maine Quality Centers formalized the partnership through a grant signing ceremony today at PlumChoice’s regional Center of Excellence in Scarborough. PlumChoice, the nation’s leading remote technical services provider, opened its Center of Excellence in the Maine community last year to provide support and advanced training for its fast-growing U.S. operations.

Students accepted into the training program agree to complete a 72-hour course at SMCC’s South Portland campus. At the end of the program, each graduate is guaranteed a hiring interview with PlumChoice; those who are hired and who complete at least six months of service in good standing will receive a signing bonus in addition to their normal pay.

The partnership agreement, which commences immediately, stipulates the hiring of up to 350 graduates over the course of the program.

“Beginning last year, PlumChoice made a commitment to the residents of New England to help build a trained workforce that is ready to compete in the 21st century economy. Today’s grant signing is a significant next step forward in that commitment,” said Rich Surace, Senior Vice President, Operations for PlumChoice. “Our company’s business model is predicated on the idea that jobs with a future can be grown wherever there are individuals with a passion for excellence. We greatly value our new relationship with the Maine Community College System and look forward to leveraging this opportunity to create many, many high quality jobs for the people of Maine.”

“Southern Maine Community College couldn’t be more pleased to take part in this initiative which goes to the heart of what we do—helping Maine residents be part of building the businesses that will make up the economy of the future,” stated James O. Ortiz, Ed.D., President of Southern Maine Community College. “We believe this program will help many people transition to more fulfilling and more productive lives.”

By training and employing work-at-home technology service workers, PlumChoice and SMCC are giving new opportunities to Maine residents, many of whom live in rural areas, to participate in the digital revolution. Graduates of the program will not only be highly trained in delivering service and support for scores of Microsoft and Apple products via the phone and Internet, but also will gain the flexibility that work-at-home jobs provide.

PlumChoice’s at-home employment program reduces commuting-related pollution—an important concern to many Maine residents. It also expresses PlumChoice’s commitment to employing U.S. workers amid an industry that often focuses on offshore jobs.

“Today’s grant puts the monies of the Maine Quality Centers to work in the most productive way possible,” said James McGowan, Director of Maine Quality Centers. “We believe this is the power of not only dollars, but also partnerships, to benefit companies and workers alike.”