Discover celebrates grand opening of Chatham call center, community center

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ByWill Jones via WLS logo
Monday, August 1, 2022
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Discover employees and community leaders celebrated the official grand opening of not only a customer care center, but also a community center.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Taking a stroll down the Soul Train line is a rite of passage for new hires at Discover in Chatham. This community has been dancing to a new beat since the arrival of the company last year.

Discover employees and community leaders celebrated the official grand opening of not only a customer care center, but also a community center, with a ribbon cutting ceremony Friday afternoon.

"This center started in 2019 with the idea that large companies need to challenge traditional ways of doing business in order to be part of overcoming centuries of bias," Discover CEO Roger Hochschild said.

When Target announced in 2018 it was closing its store in Chatham, the community was devastated. There was worry about what, if anything, would move into the 125,000 square foot building.

"I would say that this was fertile ground all along," Mayor Lori Lightfoot said. "And that what Discover has done in partnership with the community is planted the seeds, tilled the soil, make sure that it is properly watered. And then what you see blooming is a fruit of a beautiful South Side neighborhood when people are given the opportunity."

Hundreds of people are already working at the call center and the company plans to hire hundreds more to reach 1,000 employees by 2024. Many of the current workers live in Chatham and surrounding neighborhoods.

"It means a lot to me," said Discover employee Chaka Smith. "My family is very excited because they never thought this moment would come."

For some, this company is helping them turn their lives around.

"Since I have been here, it has just changed my life," said Discover employee Emanuel Newsom. "A new environment, it just makes you want to do better, be better as a person."

Discover is partnering with Chicago State University to help employees further their education.

"At Chicago State, we serve every type of student and understand that employees coming to school will be juggling work, family, and school," said Dr. Leslie Roundtree, the interim provost and senior vice president of academic affairs.

If the Soul Train line is any indication, the employees will have the support of their coworkers growing within and outside the company.