Jennifer Nopper moved back to the Akron area after 20 years in Phoenix just in time to be among a small group of local people hired for a first-of-its-kind eBay job in the United States.
Nopper is one of 40 people eBay brought on board to be part of what it calls eBay@Home, a just-launched U.S. customer service work-from-home program.
Akron is the first city in the U.S. for eBay@Home, building on its new relationship with the Silicon Valley online commerce company that started in January with another Akron/eBay first, the Retail Revival program for local small businesses.
As a new eBay employee, Nopper is undergoing training and said she likes the convenience of being able to set hours work at home and also get full-time benefits.
“I’m excited to be back home,” she said. “I’m basically going to be on the phone assisting buyers and sellers.”
Some 1,300 people applied online for the 40 open positions in Akron, officials said at the official eBay@Home announcement Thursday morning. The event in the Bounce Innovation Hub at 526 S. Main St. in the downtown Canal Place complex involved local politicians, eBay executives and a large group of the Akron hires.
The jobs pay between $12 and $15 an hour, with eBay providing a computer, two monitors and other equipment, plus a stipend to offset the cost of high-speed internet service, the new Akron-area employees said. People hired into eBay@Home get five weeks of paid virtual classroom and on-the-job training. They also will get health care, can take part in a 401(k) retirement plan, and will receive paid time off.
“The compensation is good for the position,” Nopper said. Once training ends, Nopper said she will be working full-time Tuesday through Saturday at her home in Portage County’s Randolph Township.
This is eBay’s second program within a year in Akron. The company in January launched its Retail Revival initiative Akron, helping selected small businesses use eBay as a global selling platform. The announcement included bringing in eBay President and CEO Devin Wenig to the Northside Marketplace off Furnace Street.
eBay@Home is expected to create 120 jobs in the United States after hiring another 80 people in Salt Lake City, Utah and Austin, Texas, by the end of the year. eBay said it plans to expand eBay@Home to more U.S. cities next year. Besides helping eBay’s customer service, the program is also intended to help boost local economies.
The online sales and auction company launched the at-home jobs program in 2017 in Ireland and a work-from-home program with its StubHub sports and entertainment ticket exchange business unit.
Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan called eBay a great partner with the city.
“What an organization to work with,” he said.
EBay and its Retail Revival and eBay@Home programs are examples of innovative thinking and mutually beneficial partnerships, he said.
“eBay is finding additional ways to capitalize on the hardworking, talented and friendly people right here in Akron,” Horrigan said.
Chris Librie, eBay’s head of Global Impact & Giving, said company executives have been getting to know Akron and its officials and entrepreneurs well. He said he and colleagues made their first trip to Akron in October 2017 and soon realized they found the right place to launch the Retail Revival program.
In Akron, they found the “magical mix of grit, spirit and optimism” that eBay was seeking, he said.
Retail Revival is a success and going strong, he said. The Akron businesses have sold in all 50 states, with 40 percent of the businesses also recording sales in 60 other nations, he said.
The @Home employees will typically take 45 to 50 phone calls over an eight-hour workday, said Paul Gazeley, head of North American Customer Service Operations, who will oversee the program.
“Akron is a very special city for eBay,” said Penny Bruce, head of eBay corporate communications. “We decided to launch this event here in Akron, to start this program here in Akron, as an extension of our investment in and our commitment to this great city.”
Ohio is home to about 250,000 eBay sellers who generate about $1 billion in gross merchandise volume, she said. “It’s a very important part of our ecosystem.”
“This is not happening everywhere,” said U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Niles, who praised eBay. Ryan in February brought a group of venture capitalists, many from the West Coast, to Akron on a tour of his Northeast Ohio district as part of what was called the Comeback Communities bus trip.
Akron and Summit County are showing leadership, Ryan said at Thursday’s eBay event.
“We are creating a model for other communities around the country of what is possible when you come together as a community. You don’t ask what our differences are. You ask what we have in common,” Ryan said.
Akron resident Cynthia Harris is another new eBay@Home employee.
“I was actively looking for an at-home position,” said the 36-year-old, who is pregnant with her first child. She found the eBay job while going through a Facebook work-from-home group, she said.
“I’m so thankful for the opportunity,” Harris said.
Jim Mackinnon covers business and county government. He can be reached at 330-996-3544 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @JimMackinnonABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/JimMackinnonABJ