In an economic development announcement organized by Gov. Mike Beebe Wednesday morning, Hewlett-Packard Inc. of Palo Alto, Calif. said the company is planning to add approximately 200 computer programming and software jobs to its facility in Conway.
What currently serves as a customer service and technical support center will adopt additional functions in 2014 as a "regional industry development center" to support HP’s healthcare industry solutions for commercial and state clients.
Governor Mike Beebe said the announcement represented the resiliency of Arkansas’ growing technology workforce.
"The skill level of these jobs, the salaries and the field of expertise all prove that Arkansas’ workforce can compete for high-quality jobs and adjust to the changing demands of HP’s market," he said.
About two months ago, HP was wrapping up the 500 layoffs originally announced in July as part of a company wide initiative to cut 9,000 positions in an effort to stabilize declining revenues.
When HP announced it was coming to Conway in 2008, the company received a number of incentives including a $29 million building leased by the Conway Development Corporation with $10 million from the Governor’s Quick Action Closing Fund to help pay for infrastructure.
In order for HP to receive the $10 million, the company signed an agreement to employ 1,000 people by the end of 2013.
HP first opened its doors in 2010, announcing it would employ 1,200 Arkansans with average salaries of $40,000 within the next four years.
Wednesday’s announcement of 200 jobs puts the company between 800 and 900 employees in Conway, said Scott Hardin, manager of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.
Hardin said if the company does not reach 1,000 employees, there would potentially be the need for clawbacks on some of the $10 million.
"The way [the AEDC] figure(s), if HP does indeed owe any of the $10 million back, (it) is based not just on how many the company employs at the end of 2013, but takes into account how many full time employees the company has maintained over an extended period of time along with total payroll," he said.
At this point, Hardin said, he cannot speculate how much money HP will owe, but will be able to give a firm answer by the end of the year.
"We are currently in the process of working closely with HP to determine total jobs and payroll over this period of time and will know by the end of the year if HP is to return any money," he said.
Jamie Gates, senior vice president of the Conway Development Corporation, said he doesn’t know if Conway can expect HP to do any more hiring before the end of the year.
"But HP’s [health industry solutions] is a growing segment within HP, so that is encouraging," he said.
Hardin said he is unaware of any additional hiring plans.
The new jobs come from a sector of business where HP is seeing growth, and in relation to recent layoffs, Gates said, the company "pulled back" where revenues were declining.
"Thankfully for our community these health care related jobs pay well, and we’ve got a work force qualified to fill those positions," he said.
The jobs announced Wednesday are not related to any of the jobs that were recently cut, Hardin said.
John Herzog, Hewlett-Packard account executive, said, "these new employees will fill important technical roles in software engineering, business analysis and management in support of HP’s growing government and commercial healthcare business across the United States."
Conway Mayor Tab Townsell said Wednesday’s news should re-affirm Conway citizens’ faith in the strength of the community’s relationship with the tech giant.
"The fundamental reasons we were excited about this project five years ago have not changed," he said. "Conway has a quality workforce. HP has the wherewithal to withstand the ebbs and flows of the global economy. Today is a great example of Conway and HP succeeding together."
Although the Governor’s Quick Action Closing Fund states HP must employ 1,000 people by the end of 2013, it does note that overall payroll will be taken into consideration, Hardin said.
Salary ranges have not been announced, but a salary review website that contains typical salaries for HP positions, www.glassdoor.com, shows inside sales managers, one of the positions listed on HP Jobs site, h30631.www3.hp.com, have an average salary of $53,500.
Pre-sales technical consultants, another position listed, have a salary that ranges from $64,000 to $173,000, with an average salary of $120,378.
Other positions on the site include sales development representative, inside sales representative and cloud services college intern.
(Staff writer Michelle Corbet can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 505-1215. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)