By Joe Mahoney Staff Writer
The Daily Star
---- — Delaware County officials have succeeded in luring a company specializing in call centers to set up shop in a factory building in the village of Hancock in a development expected to produce 400 new jobs within two years.
The company, Data Control Center, is a subsidiary of Qualfon, which provides business process outsourcing for major companies such as IBM and AT&T.
According to an announcement issued by Delaware County Economic Development Director Glenn Nealis, Data Control Group plans to make a $2.8 million investment to renovate and equip a portion of what is still known as the Becton Dickinson manufacturing building to set up a call center and back office operation.
Becton Dickinson left the region for Mexico in 2002, leaving some 700 local workers unemployed.
“This is really huge for our community,” said Hancock Town Supervisor Sam Rowe. “It’s really great that someone is willing to pick up the slack after Becton Dickinson left us for Mexico.”
Data Control Group was described by local officials as a U.S.-based back office and call center operation with locations in Deposit and Shelbyville, Ky. The arrangement calls for it to lease space from the Buffalo Dental Manufacturing Group, which now owns the former Becton Dickinson plant.
Nealis said a key development in attracting the company to Delaware County was the award of a $600,000 grant from the state Office of Community Renewal. That money, which comes out of the federal Community Development Block Grant program, will help the company pay a portion of the costs associated with purchasing and installing furniture, fixtures and equipment as well as working capital.
The incentive package was necessary in order to place Delaware County in a competitive position with other locations that were also trying to lure Data Control Group, officials said.
Also providing a booster shot to the project is the Chenango-Delaware-Otsego Workforce Board. Officials said it will help the company locate and train the workers it will require at its new location.
Peter Lutz, Qualfon’s vice president, said in a statement: “We’re very excited by this announcement and we look forward to becoming part of the community of Hancock and setting down roots for a long and productive relationship.”
Starting pay for entry-level workers who will be classified as “Level 1 representatives” is expected to be $10 an hour, with employer-provided healthcare benefits and the opportunity for rapid advancement, Nealis said. Once experienced, the representatives are expected to earn $25,000 per year or more. The pay for supervisors will range from $30,000 t0 $40,000 a year, while senior managers could earn more than $50,000 in annual pay, the economic development director said.
Data Control Group is also planning to offer in-house and educational training to its employees to ensure local residents with a high school diploma or equivalency degree qualify for the majority of the jobs that will be created, officials said.
The chairman of the Delaware County Board of Supervisors, James Eisel of Harpersfield, said: “Delaware County welcomes Data Control Group and stands ready to assist and encourage industry and job development opportunity which leads to important community development.”
Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook also applauded the announcement. “These jobs represent an exciting beginning for the area,” said Gibson.
Nealis said once a lease agreement is finalized, it is expected to take up to three months to complete renovations, after which hiring will begin. He said he could not yet pinpoint a precise date as to when the workers will go on the payroll.
The benefits for DCG workers will also include vision and dental coverage, 401K pension options and the potential for financial assistance for child care needs, officials said.
Nealis said the DCG is initially expected to occupy between 35,000 and 50,000 square feet in a building that has 121,000 square feet of space. There will be room for the company to expand inside the building if it needs to grow, Nealis said.
Rowe said Gibson, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., the Cuomo administration, Assemblyman Cliff Crouch, R-Guilford and Sen. Tom Libous, R-Binghamton, all helped to advance the push for funding.
James Thomson, chairman of the Delaware County Industrial Development Agency, said: “Congressman Gibson’s office provided critical support in the county’s efforts to put an incentive package together to attract DCG to the area.”