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General Dynamics to hire 250 at Miss. call center

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) -- Government contractor General Dynamics Corp. will hire more than 200 people in Hattiesburg, Miss. to answer questions about federal student aid applications.

The call center will lease 17,500 square feet in the Cloverleaf Center, a redeveloped mall owned by Equity Alliance of Hattiesburg, LLC

Gov. Phil Bryant and others welcomed General Dynamics Wednesday at an event in Hattiesburg.

"It will certainly have a positive impact on the local community," Bryant said in a statement. "I thank General Dynamics for placing its confidence in our business climate and in our workforce."

The Mississippi Development Authority will provide a $150,000 grant to General Dynamics, which will also qualify for state and local tax breaks and job training subsidies.

The company expects to start operations by April, hiring 225 people by summer and growing to 250 employees by the end of 2013, said Mark Meudt, a General Dynamics spokesman. Workers will take calls from people who have questions about how to fill out federal student aid applications,

General Dynamics, based in Falls Church, Va., is mainly a defense contractor, but also provides non-military services. General Dynamics' information technology unit will run the Hattiesburg unit.

The company already has four other call centers that answer questions about federal government programs. Meudt said the company needed to open a fifth center because of the growth in inquiries about student aid.

"This is pure growth," Meudt said. He wouldn't say how much General Dynamics receives from the U.S. Department of Education to answer questions. He said the company has been providing the service for about 30 years.

Meudt also wouldn't say how much workers would be paid, but said they would be more highly trained than typical call center employees.

General Dynamics will hold two hiring fairs on Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m in Hattiesburg. Friday's fair will be at the Hattiesburg WIN Job Center at 1911 Arcadia St. while Saturday's will be at the Pearl River Community College Woodall Technology Center at 906 Sullivan Dr.