This article was updated from its original version
The Oregon Department of Administrative Services announced plans for an emergency lease of office space at an empty industrial building in Wilsonville to help the state employment department process an unprecedented number of unemployment claims.
As of Thursday, April 9, the employment department said it had received almost 270,000 claims in three weeks, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the emergency lease agreement would allow it to begin working at the site more quickly. The state is planning to finalize the lease agreement by May 1.
"The urgency with which the agency plans to occupy the space requires an expedited time frame in order to support the Employment Department's mission," an administrative services public notice reads.
According to Liz Merah, the communications director for the department of administrative services, the employment department is increasing staff from 100 (before the COVID-19 crisis) to 900 to respond to the ballooning demand for unemployment insurance.
"That's the reason they are looking at leasing a space because they have to have the physical space and the phones and the equipment to do this sort of work," she said.
The space at 9275 S.W. Peyton Lane, is 120,000-square-feet and used to be home to call centers for Convergys and Stream Global Services. It served as the Hollywood Video headquarters before that.
"Presumably it would be ideally situated as a call center to process claims and process claimants," said City of Wilsonville Public Affairs Director Mark Ottenad.
The state is already using a warehouse at the former Microsoft building in town to store protective equipment for medical personnel.
The size of the unemployment department facility was incorrectly reported in a previous version of this story. It is 120,000-square-feet.
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