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Firm creating 500 new jobs
A Spanish outsourcing company said it will create 500 new jobs in Miami-Dade County, with starting wages of around $27,000.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Miami-Dade business recruiters are starting their 25th anniversary year with a gift for the local economy: 500 new jobs.

Grupo Eulen, a Madrid-based outsourcing firm, will not receive any tax breaks in exchange for creating the new positions, which are largely for unskilled workers with starting wages of around $27,000.

``We try to recruit the higher-paid, knowledge-based kind of jobs, but we also need these,'' said Frank Nero, president of the Beacon Council, Miami-Dade's economic development agency. ``There is a segment of the population that needs these entry-level positions.''

The Beacon Council announced the new jobs at its annual meeting Wednesday at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Miami. The nonprofit agency, funded mainly through a county tax on businesses, is entering its 25th year of bringing jobs to Miami-Dade County.

Grupo Eulen, which sells outsourced services such as security and cleaning, recently bought a majority stake in Miami-based American Sales and Management. By purchasing ASM, which also provides outsourced services -- particularly ramp workers, baggage handlers and security personnel for airlines at Miami International and other airports -- Eulen gains a foothold in the U.S. market.

Eulen, which says it plans to invest $30 million locally, also has relocated its Latin American headquarters from Mexico City to Coconut Grove.

The 500 new jobs will be created over the next eight months and will be evenly split between the airport and other locations, said Joseph C. Lorenzo, the new president of Eulen America.

Privately held Eulen says it has $2.3 billion in annual revenue and more than 81,000 employees, almost half of whom are in Latin America.

Although Eulen is in the outsourcing business, Nero and Lorenzo said the 500 new jobs will be genuinely new -- not just cases where existing jobs are shifted from other employers to Eulen.

Also on Wednesday, the Beacon Council welcomed its new chairwoman, Alexandra Villoch, senior vice president of advertising and marketing for The Miami Herald Media Co. She succeeds Tere Blanca, president of Blanca Commercial Real Estate.

Other new officers include Chairman-elect Jack Lowell, vice chairman of Flagler Development Group; Secretary Donna Abood, chief executive of Colliers Abood Wood-Fay Real Estate Group, and Treasurer Sigfredo Birriel, senior vice president of business development for Bank of America.

In a speech, Villoch harkened back to the Beacon Council's founding in 1985, in the wake of an early-1980s recession that saw 10 percent unemployment and major employers going out of business. ``The end goal was to create better quality jobs, as well as assist existing businesses to grow and prosper,'' she said. ``And given the economic recession and current unemployment rates, we still face 25 years later, our core mission is as critical now as it was then to our community.''

Nero said that he often hears from elected leaders that their communities need jobs for low-skilled workers. ``Until the educational system is able to increase that knowledge base, we can't ignore that there is a significant sement of the population that needs jobs such as Eulen has created,'' Nero said.

Nero and his staff had been interacting for years with both Eulen and ASM, and he said the Beacon Council served as a matchmaker in bringing the companies together.

Eulen hired an investment bank to look at similar firms before choosing ASM, however.

ASM is a major contractor for American Airlines and also does work for other airlines at MIA. Although August passenger traffic at MIA was down 2 percent and cargo traffic was down 20 percent, a terminal expansion is under way and American has announced plans to increase flights to Miami.

Eulen's Lorenzo said his company will provide health benefits and the full $13.01 per hour minimum wage required for airport workers by the county's living wage law. Outside the airport, the company will still pay at least $13.01, although not all workers will get health insurance. When supervisory and other jobs are added, Eulen said its average wage will be $43,000 for the new jobs. These wages have helped keep ASM's turnover rate at a very low 4 percent per year, Lorenzo said.

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