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Questions remain with call center closing

PENN YAN—Fred Weiner, president and chief executive officer, of The Connection call center issued a three-paragraph press release last Thursday announcing the sudden closing of the Penn Yan business at the end of business day Friday, Feb. 4.
Published reports indicated that between 70-130 employees were actually employed at the call center last week when the closing was announced. However, Finger Lakes Economic Center Executive Director Steve Griffin said their employment numbers changed daily and the level may have been around 130 people as of last week.
Weiner returned a telephone call from The Observer Tuesday morning and said he wasn’t sure of the exact number of employees as of last Thursday morning, but that he would ask his office to email that number to our office. As of press time, an email had not been received.
The Penn Yan facility was opened last summer to handle customer calls for their client, Clearwire. Griffin said that growth came so quickly from Clearwire that The Connection did not find other customers. Clearwire was their sole customer.
Questions about economic incentives that were approved for The Connection call center were also addressed by Griffin at the Monday afternoon Yates County Legislature meeting. He said that incentives were paid to Krog Co., the owner and developer of the call center building and also tax exemptions were provided to The Connection for county and state sales tax.
Legislator Tim Dennis asked about the agreements with the company and the lease on the recently re-surfaced parking lot. Griffin said there were two agreements. He said his office has not received any money that is due from The Connection for the parking lot paving. This amount was some $150,000.00 and was to be paid by The Connection from economic incentives.However, Griffin said the company is making payments on the monthly lease for use of the parking lot. Dennis also asked what would happen regarding the sales tax exemption if the company moved their equipment out of the local facility. Griffin said if that happened, the sales tax would be due immediately. Griffin estimated the amount of tax due would be around $70,000 on their capital equipment investment of about $875,000.
Griffin said his office is actively pursuing a new business for the building which will now be vacated by The Connection. Griffin said, “Both The Connection and FLEDC are working on it.” Griffin said he is working with Empire State Development on a lead for the Penn Yan facility.




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