Help wanted for Grand Rapids help line

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The tight labor market is causing slowdowns with a city service designed to cut through the bureaucratic red tape.

Grand Rapids’ 311 center needs more operators to handle non-emergency calls for city services.

The Center handles about 127,000 interactions a year, most of them over the phone.

It is one stop shopping for city services.

“For things as simple as, ‘there’s a dead animal on my street that needs to be picked up,’ and as complicated as, ‘I’d like to schedule an inspection with a building inspector,'” said Grand Rapids 311 Manager Angela Dore.

Launched in 2013, the Grand Rapids 311 center has caught the attention of other cities. Augustine Martinez visited from the city of Lansing, as they work to establish their own 311 center.

“From where we’re at, this is the ideal situation, where things are handled. People are getting to the right place. Getting the appropriate information,” said Martinez.

But like just about any other service organizations, Grand Rapids 311 center needs more workers. Calls that usually take 30 seconds now can take up to two minutes to get a solution.

It is a familiar situation to just about anyone trying to hire workers these days.

Part of the problem with 311: It is one of the more upwardly mobile jobs at city hall.

“To me that’s wonderful. I have little 311 seedlings in so many department that I have these great relationship. It enhances my relationships with them,” said Dore.

So the city is reaching out to organizations like the Grand Rapids Hispanic Center for help.

“And we’re working with our temp agencies. But I think they’re struggling to just to, just to get some recruits in the office,” said Dore.

Starting pay for the job is $21 an hour.

Applicants need to have a high school diploma and customer service experience is preferred. So is patience.

Having a thick skin doesn’t hurt either.

“People don’t call and are like… good job city!” said Dore.

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