Empty Columbus Winn-Dixie had a $5M transformation. A new company plans to employ 600.

A call center projected to employ 600 people.

It’s the best use of a shuttered Winn-Dixie that Brian Sillitto, an executive vice president of the Greater Columbus Georgia Chamber of Commerce, said he’s seen in his life.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, Columbus Mayor Skip Henderson, various city officials and representatives with Colorado-based Global Callcenter Solutions (GCS) attended a ribbon cutting Wednesday to mark the company’s re-purposing of the old supermarket and the jobs it’s expected to create.

GCS, whose clients include cable television and broadband services, announced in September 2018 that it would create 600 jobs in Columbus over the next five years, and that it would occupy temporary space downtown before moving into the old Winn-Dixie at 1100 Hunt Ave., just off Buena Vista Road.

“We are grateful for Global Callcenter Solutions’ investment here in Columbus,” Gov. Kemp said in a statement. “The jobs created by this new facility will deliver great opportunities for hardworking Georgians in Muscogee County, and with access to a skilled and readily-available workforce, I am confident that GCS will find great success here as we build on our partnership in the years to come.”

Why choose Columbus? GCS’ President and CEO Kurt Heitmann said the company looked at locations across the Southern United States. But two things were needed — a facility and people.

“We had both (in Columbus),” he said. “The labor market has been tremendous. We’ve had no problems filling our positions.”

GCS employs about 160 people currently, and there are nearly 1,000 job applications the company hasn’t reviewed yet, he said.

The company invested about $5 million into the Columbus operation. A bulk of those funds were spent on retrofitting the facility with wiring, telephones and other needed office equipment.

There are economic incentives for locating here as well. The Development Authority of Columbus will pay GCS $500 for each job created — which could total $300,000 if GCS reaches its projected employment numbers, Sillitto said.

“It was an abandoned retail grocery store in a part of town that has really suffered from some disinvestment,” he said. “For (GCS) to come here and have a vision of what this could become, I think it’s a great reuse of abandoned retail space. ...This is an economic developer.”

You can apply for a job at the call center online at GCS’ website.