Local and state officials have spent this week praising a decision by GM Financial Co., the financing arm of General Motors Co., to build a financial services center in San Antonio, where it plans to employ up to 700 people. Almost all of these positions will be new hires.

GM Financial is working with Western Securities Limited to build a 100,000-square-foot facility on a 13.8-acre tract at the intersection of Westover Link and North Ellison Drive near Texas Highway 151. The center, representing a $24.5 million investment, will provide phone support for auto loans. GM Financial already has a credit center with 51 workers in the Balcones Heights area.

City Council on Thursday approved a City incentives package with GM Financial, including a nearly $339,600 tax abatement that will cover 50% of the increased tax value of the land improvements at the new project site. The company also has asked for that the City designate the project site as a reinvestment zone, which could net the City $2 million over 10 years.

Bexar County Commissioners Court on Tuesday authorized County staff to finalize its agreement with the company — a six-year tax abatement across 90% of real and personal property improvements.

GM Financial officials said they chose San Antonio as the site for the new center for several reasons, including a strong workforce, an ideal time zone that can serve customers nationwide, and, incentives offered by the City, County and State, including a $2.5 million incentive from the Texas Enterprise Fund.

Mario Hernandez, San Antonio Economic Development Foundation (SAEDF) president, said in an earlier Rivard Report story about GM Financial’s announcement that San Antonio was a finalist for the service center along with an Eastern U.S. city that has remained unnamed.

The Fort Worth-based company, according to Hernandez, also liked the Westover Hills area because of the rapid commercial and residential development happening there, including the establishment of several corporate data and financial service centers, including multiple Microsoft sites, Frost Bank and Nationwide Insurance.

“As GM Financial continues to grow to support General Motors, we have a strategic focus on providing best-in-class service to our customers and dealers. This additional facility will help us do that by expanding our workforce and service capacity in a strong and vibrant employment market,” said CEO Dan Berce in a news release. “We are excited to add another servicing center in the state that is home to GM Financial’s corporate headquarters and other operational facilities.”

Mayor Ivy Taylor has often said that a strong, diverse workforce, supported by an array of educational institutions and job skills organizations, is vital to furthering San Antonio’s economic growth.

“I’d like to welcome GM Financial’s financial and customer support operations to San Antonio,” Mayor Taylor stated in a release. “Within the next four years, this project will bring a minimum of 490 full-time jobs to our city, a testament to San Antonio’s strengths in this industry area.”

What exactly will GM Financial be looking for in prospective employers? The company will have a recruiting team interviewing and hiring candidates by the fourth quarter of 2016 or even by late next summer, said Shelbi Rodriguez of Creative Civilization, the local public relations and marketing firm working with SAEDF.

Early on, the service center will hire team members, including those in leadership positions, to handle account servicing, maintenance and collections for customer accounts. GM Financial will have a range of positions from entry-level to mid-manager and leadership opportunities.

Following the City’s tax abatement rules, all potential jobs must pay at least $11.66 per hour, and at least 70% of the employees on site must earn at least $14.96 hourly. Salaries for leadership positions will vary based on level and years of experience.

Rodriguez said hourly positions that would handle customer accounts will typically require a high school diploma or GED, with a college degree being preferred. Finance or auto industry experience is not required; experience in the service industry is a plus.

“GM Financial looks for energetic, highly motivated, friendly individuals who can provide our customers with a positive experience. For leadership positions, a college degree is typically required along with five to seven years experience leading and managing teams,” she added.

Candidates will also be able to find job listings on the company’s web site at www.gmfinancial.com/careers. Construction is expected to begin in early 2016, with the company planning to occupy the building in the first quarter of 2017. Gov. Greg Abbott weighed in with excitement for GM Financial’s plan, which local officials say will yield a major economic effect on the city.

“Texas is proud that GM Financial has chosen San Antonio as the home of its next financial servicing center,” said Gov. Abbott said in a release. “Thanks to our low-tax, low-regulation environment, GM Financial will be creating nearly 500 jobs and investing tens of millions of dollars in the Texas economy. As governor, I will continue to pursue policies that encourage this type of investment with the goal of making Texas an even better place to live, work and raise a family.”

“We are excited that GM Financial has selected San Antonio as the home of their operations facility,” said Wayne Peacock, SAEDF Board chairman. “GM Financial will generate a lasting economic impact on the community by committing to add 490 new jobs, with the possibility of growing that number up to 700 over time. In fact, according to analysis conducted by Impact DataSource, the total economic output over the first 10 years of operations could reach nearly $333 million.”

GM Financial employs 6,700 people and has 18 credit centers across the United States and Canada, operating financial servicing centers in four other cities, including Arlington, Texas.

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Edmond Ortiz, a lifelong San Antonian, is a freelance reporter/editor who has worked with the San Antonio Express-News and Prime Time Newspapers.