By Tim Leeds
Advantage Line, Inc. is still negotiating the details to see if a Havre call center will be an advantage for the company.
Craig Erickson, planner at Bear Paw Development Corporation North Montana (BPDC,) said representatives of the Williston, N.D., based company are negotiating the details about leasing space at the Holiday Village Shopping Center with representatives from Ocwen, owners of the shopping center, and negotiating prices for equipment and services with representatives of Triangle Telephone Cooperative Association, Inc. (TTC).
Erickson said BPDC is also continuing to see where, if anywhere, Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds from the Commerce Department could be used to make locating a center in Havre more attractive to Advantage Line President Mark Hardy. He said CDBG funds could be used to leverage loans to make locating the center more profitable to all parties involved. Erickson said CDBG funds could be used to reduce expenses to provide telecommunications services, remodel and lease space at the shopping center, and for Advantage Line to hire and train the local employees needed for a center.
Erickson said that although Hardy has missed his self-imposed deadline for deciding whether to relocate in Havre, the negotiations are still ongoing. He said he is concerned that anyone might think the missed deadline ensures an action one way or the other.
Erickson said that although Hardy is past the deadline, he is still considering Havre for the location. He said missing the deadline did not mean Havre is out of the running.
Erickson said that the opposite is also true. Just because Hardy is still considering Havre after missing the deadline does not ensure he will choose Havre for the site, he said.
Erickson said Hardy has come up with a scenario the president of the company thinks will work to open the center in Havre. Erickson said the parties involved are in the process of collecting all information needed to see if that scenario can happen. He said they are putting together the details of a package that will be attractive to Hardy and bring Advantage Line to Havre.
Erickson said the Havre Job Service has referred some resumes and applications for site manager and shift manager to Advantage Line. When he was in Havre on June 13, Hardy said finding qualified applicants for these positions as quickly as possible was crucial.
Hardy said he wants the center to be up and running by Sept. 1 of this year. He said finding applicants for the manager positions as quickly as possible was crucial because they will need to go through a training period, for about 60 days, before they are ready to manage the new center.
Hardy said he was looking for applicants with good people and management skills, and would train them in the particulars for their jobs.
Erickson said the same is true for the operators who would work at the stations in the center. Advantage Line is an incoming call center, mainly taking catalog orders over the phone and similar business. Erickson said the main qualifications Hardy is looking for is being friendly and fast. He said Hardy will train the employees in all particulars of taking orders and using the terminals at the stations.