Yesterday, Nashville’s business community welcomed a new addition.
ServiceSource, a San Francisco-based service performance management company, will employ 125 people initially in 30,000 square feet of space in the former CNA headquarters building a short drive from Nashville International Airport.
Based on the gushing appreciation at the Partnership 2010 meeting you would have thought the company was bringing far more than 125 jobs to Nashville. Kroll Inc. is expanding its Nashville presence with three times the space for three times the employees but got only a brief mention.
Cynically, ServiceSource’s attention may have been for Mayor Karl Dean’s benefit, to give me the appearance of economic development sizzle early in his term. If so, his staff should have given Kroll more.
What’s more likely, however, is ServiceSource is dangling a much bigger prize than just 125 jobs. Economic developers and officialdom won’t acknowledge that publicly.
Neighboring counties fought hard to land the company, as hard as if a large company was looking for a spot for 1,000 jobs.
ServiceSource’s press release quoted Gov. Phil Bredesen; Matt Kisber, commissioner of the Tennessee Economic and Community Development Department; John Bradley, senior vice president at the Tennessee Valley Authority; and others. Such attention is rare for a 30,000-square-foot deal.
The bet is that down the road this company adds significantly to its real estate here. There are 19 acres next to Commerce Center East zoned for up to 220,000 square feet of office space.
So, the 125 employees could turn into 1,200, making that fight for the 30,000-square-foot deal worth the effort.
ServiceSource apparently is growing at a pretty quick clip in the industry it founded — service performance management. It’s a bit esoteric and defining the industry involves mind-numbing industry speak.
Regardless, the company seems to have carved a niche helping companies with customer service that makes a mint for itself and its clients.
ServiceSource has been compared to Asurion, the California transplant that has developed a niche servicing mobile phone insurance for the big wireless customers in addition to other services. Asurion started out here with a fairly large presence.
Deals like ServiceSource, though, are the ones economic developers like as much as the big ones — it starts small and then balloons quickly.
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