Discover today hosted the grand opening of its Chatham Customer Care Center and Shine Bright® Community Center on Chicago’s South Side. Joined by Mayor Lori Lightfoot, 6th Ward Alderman Roderick Sawyer, and other elected officials and community leaders, Discover cut the ribbon on its new facility which includes a community center that is free for use by community-based organizations (CBOs) and other local entities, as well as a technology hub that gives current and prospective employees working at the Center access to a career path in technology.
Located at 86th Street and Cottage Grove, Discover announced plans to open its Customer Care Center in March of 2021 and opened a temporary space within the Center in just three months. The temporary space employed more than 300 people over the last year. With the grand opening of its permanent space, Discover expects to employ more than 1,000 people by 2024, most living within a five-mile radius of the Center and living in Invest South/West communities.
“In the first year of operations, our Chatham Customer Care Center has exceeded customer-satisfaction goals and is performing at an industry-leading level,” said Roger Hochschild, CEO and President of Discover. “Our Center’s success and this grand opening celebration would not be possible without the contributions of our employees and the help of South Side community leaders and organizations who welcomed us into Chatham and connected us with a large and talented pool of diverse candidates, suppliers, and contractors. I hope our commitment to Chatham and the South Side can serve as a springboard for further economic and equitable development in this vibrant community.”
Discover’s employee retention rate at the Chatham Center exceeds all its customer care centers across the country. To build and maintain the site, Discover awarded 47 percent of its business to minority-owned suppliers and 28 percent to women-owned suppliers— far surpassing City of Chicago requirements. A quarter (25 percent) of Discover’s construction spend went to local Black-owned contractors totaling nearly $4 million.
For Discover, being a good neighbor was equally as important as being a good employer. Hearing from local CBOs and residents about the lack of space to host meetings and events, Discover worked with them to design the nearly 13,000 square foot Shine Bright Community Center, a multi-purpose, multi-room, and multi-generational space that will be used for meetings and events for both Discover and CBOs, schools, business and professional associations, and other entities. The community space will also feature rotating art from local South Side artists.
Discover also opened a technology hub in its Chatham facility. While most of the positions housed at the Center are for customer care representatives with a starting hourly wage of $18 per hour, one of Discover’s goals is to expose the growing talent pool at the Center to jobs in the IT field. The tech hub will train current and prospective local talent for jobs in business technology. The first two cohorts of employees have already started, and Discover is looking to hire more experienced IT talent over the coming months.
From the initial stages of planning the Chatham Customer Care Center, Discover has worked with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office. The Center supports Lightfoot’s INVEST South/West community improvement initiative and offers job opportunities and economic development beyond Chatham to residents of INVEST South/West neighborhoods including Greater Roseland, Auburn Gresham, South Shore, and South Chicago. Discover plans to offer additional customer care jobs that will report to the Chatham Center that touch other INVEST South/West neighborhoods over the next couple of years.
“Today, I am proud to see Discover’s vision for corporate investment on the South Side once again come to fruition,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “It takes bold leadership and visionary teams to expand equity so that all our neighborhoods can thrive, and I am grateful for their partnership and support. The new Discover center will employ hundreds of talented people living in INVEST South/West communities and provide economic opportunities that will have a positive ripple effect into their neighborhoods and our city’s broader economy.”
Discover also worked with 6th Ward Alderman Roderick Sawyer, who helped connect Discover with local MWBE and Black-owned contractors as well as 8th ward Alderwoman Michelle Harris who introduced Discover to key community leaders early in the process.
“What Discover has done can and should serve as a model for corporations across the country,” said 6th Ward Ald. Roderick T. Sawyer. “I am proud that together we have worked to make the Center in Chatham a reality especially by partnering to employ minority-owned contractors on the project. The legacy of this project will benefit residents now and in years to come.”
Prioritizing hiring local talent and minority-owned businesses has been key to Discover’s success in both the construction of the facility and its employee retention rate.
“Discover is living up to the promise it has made to the Chatham community,” said 8th Ward Ald. Michelle Harris. “The leadership team has been fantastic and has collaborated with us every step of the way. The opportunities we are creating for residents, small businesses and nonprofits will only strengthen the fabric of our neighborhood.”
Headquartered in Riverwoods, Discover has called the Chicago area home for more than 30 years and employs more than 17,000 people—nearly 5,000 of whom are in the city and suburbs. They also have a satellite office located downtown. Discover consistently has been ranked as a Top Place to Work by the Chicago Tribune. The Chatham Customer Care Center not only highlights Discover’s commitment to bringing jobs to cornerstone communities, but also further demonstrates its commitment to providing U.S. jobs. The customer care jobs in Chatham are part of the award-winning 100 percent U.S.-based customer service Discover offers across the country 24/7.
All full-time employees receive Discover’s full benefits package, which includes health insurance, a 401k plan, eligibility for 20 days minimum of paid time off, a focus on career development, and the opportunity to receive a free college education effective upon the first day of employment. Earlier this year, Discover expanded its fully paid education benefit program to the city of Chicago through a partnership with Chicago State University (CSU). Both Discover employees living in Chicago who enroll at CSU and current CSU students who work full-time at Discover are eligible to participate. The partnership allows students to not only finance their education but offers professional development opportunities to help them advance their careers.
Today’s ribbon cutting kicks off a week-long celebration of events Discover is having at the center, including receptions for local community-based organizations during the week and a Back-to-School party in its parking lot on Saturday, Aug. 6 where volunteers will be giving away more than 3,000 backpacks full of school supplies.