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Mediacom Expansion Plays Well Near Peoria

In Chillicothe, Ill. , Mediacom is approaching a milestone in a local effort to put an additional 77 jobs on the local payroll -- not far from where a Caterpillar factory became a symbol of employment in these tough economic times.

President Barack Obama (pictured) paid a highly publicized call on the Caterpillar factory in Peoria, Ill., in February, promoting the $787-billion stimulus package that was then just a proposal in Congress.

Caterpillar had pledged to rehire laid-off workers if the bill passed.

A scant 25 miles away, in Chillicothe (pop. 6,000), Mediacom is spending $1.2 million to expand and renovate an existing regional operations building into the cable operator's national sales and retention center -- without federal stimulus funds (of course).

Mediacom's already started hiring and training the new employees, en route to a local work force of about 200 in the Chillicothe area.

About 35 employees supporting local operations, on May 18, will move into a newly acquired office next door to the building at 609 South 4th St. that is being renovated in a construction project that should be completed by late summer, according to the company.

Phyllis Peters, communications director for Mediacom's Illinois region, said the job openings created by the project, "because of the salaries and benefits, are coming from a good area."

"Mediacom is a growing company, and we continue to expand our workforce to deliver quality customer service and compete in a highly competitive market," Cari Fenzel, Mediacom's regional VP for Illinois, said in a statement to the local media when inquiries were made about the construction project.

"There is such a positive work ethic in this area, and Mediacom attracts workers from as far away as Galesburg and Pekin. It makes sense to grow our employee base in Chillicothe, and this means adding jobs in a community where city leaders have been especially helpful in encouraging us to make this expansion."

Mediacom has been a job creator. Companywide, with customers in 22 states, Mediacom has a workforce of more than 4,500 and has created more than 900 news jobs since 2002, Peters said. Of those, 100 new jobs were created in 2008.

In mid-April, Mediacom hired a new class of 20 individuals at a West Des Moines, Iowa-based customer center, employees specifically to fill new positions in technical support and Internet support, she said.