Spokane Journal of Business

Center Partners believed keen on second operation

New building in Post Falls could be configured for one or more tenants

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Just months after opening a Coeur dAlene call center, Center Partners, of Fort Collins, Colo., already is one of Kootenai Countys largest private-sector employersand it could be getting bigger.

Although there is no official word, many people privately expect Center Partners to open a second North Idaho facility in Post Falls, employing potentially hundreds more people than the 500 workers it already employs in Coeur dAlene.

Bob Potter, president of Jobs Plus Inc., the economic-development organization that helped attract Center Partners to North Idaho, says Center Partners hoped-for expansion is not firm yet, (but) its a possibility.

Center Partners 48,000-square-foot Coeur dAlene call center, which opened at 1201 Ironwood Drive last spring, currently is full, Potter says.

Things have worked out very well and they are very pleased, he says.

Center Partners already is tied with several other companies as the second-largest private-sector employer in Kootenai County, says Kathryn Tacke, labor market analyst with the Idaho Department of Labors Coeur dAlene office.

Center Partners has not yet finalized contracts with customers that would give it enough additional business to commit to the expansion, Potter says, but he adds, I feel confident they will.

Center Partners contracts with other companies to handle their technical-support and customer-service calls and also provides more traditional call-center duties such as inbound and outbound telemarketing services.

Currently, G.L. Voigt Development Co., the Idaho Falls-based development company that owns Center Partners Coeur dAlene facility, is constructing a 29,000-square-foot office building in the Riverbend Commerce Park, in Post Falls. The building is only the second project undertaken in Kootenai County by G.L. Voigtwith the first being Center Partners Coeur dAlene facility.

Its unclear how many people would work at a new Center Partners facility in Post Falls. Company representatives were unavailable for comment.

The company, however, employs about 600 people in two call centers in Idaho Falls, Idaho, says James Bowman, president and CEO of the Eastern Idaho Economic Development Council, in Idaho Falls. The company began operations there with just a few hundred people, much as Center Partners did in Coeur dAlene.

The jobs Center Partners provides pay higher than average for its industry, Bowman says.

Some employees who provide high-tech customer support in Idaho Falls, for example, make very good money$30,000, $40,000, or $50,000 (a year), he says. The company also offers health-care benefits to its workers.

Voigt expects that its contractor on the Post Falls project, Steed Construction Inc., of Eagle, Idaho, will finish the new building in Riverbend Commerce Park this fall, says Eric Guanell, Voigts vice president of development. For now, Voigt is treating the new building as a speculative property that could be configured for one to six tenants, he says, adding that the company has gotten calls from potential tenants looking for space in the new building if a Center Partners deal doesnt materialize.

We think we could fill it, he says.

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