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NEW CALL CENTER PLANS TO HIRE 150

Matrix Medical Network, a company that markets Medicare Advantage health plans to seniors, is opening a call center in Clearwater with plans to hire at least 150 employees.

Based in Scottsdale, Ariz., Matrix contracts with Medicare Advantage plans to send its nurses to members' homes to set up comprehensive health records for the plan and for primary care physicians.

Employees at the new Clearwater location will largely handle outbound marketing calls, explaining the Medicare Advantage process to primarily elderly health plan members and setting up appointments for nurse visits throughout the country.

The company has leased more than 20,000 square feet in the Bayview Pavilion office building in Clearwater, according to Colliers International, which represents the limited partnership that owns the facility. The lease brings the pavilion up to 91 percent occupancy.

Matrix plans to begin taking job applications for the new facility in April. Information about average wages was not immediately available. To apply or to learn more about openings, go online to www.matrixhealth.net or call toll-free 1-877-564-3627.

The news continues a flurry of call center expansions in the bay area, marking the third such announcement this week. Auto insurer Progressive plans to hire up to 390 workers at its Riverview call center, while moving and storage provider PODS will hire about 150 sales consultants and customer service reps at its remodeled call center in Clearwater.

As with those earlier announcements, Matrix offered a similar reasoning for choosing Tampa: a deep bench strength of talent.

"As a company that operates throughout the country, we can locate our call centers virtually anywhere," said Jose Rodriguez, Matrix's vice president of business operations. "We selected the Tampa Bay area because we believe the people with the skills and talents we need to be successful are here."

Matrix spokesman Steve Holstein said there were no government incentives involved in the expansion. Tampa was the only city Matrix considered.

"They were pretty much dialed into that area," Holstein said.

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