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Charter announcement

Charter's Gary Underwood, left, and Chris Fulton chat with Gov. Steve Bullock, center, after Charter announced an expansion of their Billings area workforce Wednesday.

BILLINGS - Charter Communications is seeking to hire 100 new employees in Billings, primarily in sales and customer retention, company officials announced last week.

Wages would start at about $35,000 a year, depending on experience, and include training, benefits, incentive pay and free cable and Internet service, said Brian Anderson, the company’s director of regional communications.

About 90 of those jobs are for customer retention at the main Billings office at 1860 Monad Road, and the remainder are in tech and maintenance, company officials said.

“We believe our initiative in Montana will help grow and expand the local economy,” said Gary Underwood, Charter’s Texas-based senior governmental relations director.

Charter has about 425 employees in Billings and a call center that handles 120,000 calls daily as the area’s largest cable and Internet service provider. The company has 700 employees in Montana.

Charter officials made the announcement during a ceremony in the lobby of its Billings headquarters. About 25 community leaders were there, including Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and Billings Mayor Tom Hanel.

“When Charter first came to Montana in July 2013, they said they had big plans. It’s good to see that some more of those plans are coming to fruition,” Bullock said.

St. Louis-based Charter is one of the nation’s largest cable, Internet and phone service providers. The company came to Montana when it bought the Optimum West network from Cablevision in 2013 for $1.625 billion. That network had originally belonged to Bresnan Communications.

Charter officials said Billings is a growing market where employees are needed. Despite stiff competition for low-skilled labor in the area, Charter officials said they are pushing hard to attract employees.

“We’ll be very aggressive trying to locate the best talent we can (to bring) on board,” Anderson said.

In recent weeks, Charter has also struggled with changes and interruptions in service, which has frustrated customers.

Some were stuck without cable service or stuck in lines at the Charter office after a conversion to all-digital. Other Charter customers suffered email outages this week for customers with Bresnan addresses.

Anderson, the company’s primary spokesperson, said Charter is working to modernize its system to the digital age and encountering hiccups.

“We’re doing the best we can to make these changes. There are certainly growing pains,” Anderson said.

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