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Call center has to relocate after closing of Summit mall

A Canadian call center company that Buffalo Niagara Enterprise touted as one of its "wins" has already had to relocate in the area, a victim of the bankruptcy and closing of The Summit mall.

NuComm International, a customer service firm for the cable television industry based in St. Catharines, Ont., opened a second U.S.-based facility in the Wheatfield property in October 2008 to meet the growing demand it faced for its services in the United States. The company invested $927,000 and created 157 jobs.

But it found itself potentially homeless when mall owner Oberlin Plaza One filed for bankruptcy in May and announced plans to close the building a month later. Though it remained open longer, most tenants were gone by the end of August, with a credit union, hair salon, anchor stores and NuComm remaining, and the rest expected to go shortly.

"We were aware that they had to move," said Buffalo Niagara Enterprise spokesman Paul Pfeiffer. "We had a very, very good working relationship with the folks at NuComm. As soon as the bankruptcy of Summit's parent got announced, the first call they made was to [us]."

Pfeiffer said BNE officials put NuComm in touch with some attorneys to examine their options, and also helped them look at additional sites.

"We don't want to see any company go through that kind of scenario, but they were good about it, and by all accounts, they're still very, very happy to be here in the region," Pfeiffer said.

The company hired Pyramid Brokerage Co. to quickly find it new space, and has now leased and occupied 6,000 square feet of space at 1000 Young St. in Tonawanda, in Benderson Development Co.'s Youngmann Development Park, said Pyramid broker David Schiller.

"The Buffalo area is good for call centers, and the adaptive reuse of retail as well as use of flex parks have been good real estate solutions for these companies," he said. "Youngmann Development offered easy access and plenty of parking."

Western New York has long been seen as a center for call center and related back-office operations, because of the lower costs of both space and labor, and the presence of a skilled and eager work force.

Schiller is also marketing a property at 5897 South Transit Road in Lockport for adaptive reuse by a tenant, particularly for call centers, and he said he's already fielded two inquiries, though he would not elaborate.

Additionally, in the past, ACS and Capital Management Services both former retail space -- a former Ames department store and part of the South Ogden Plaza, respectively -- for their call center operations.

e-mail: jepstein@buffnews.com

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