U.S. Solutions moving operations to former Touchstone Wireless building
Aug 31, 2012 (Bristol Herald Courier - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Telecommunications company U.S. Solutions is combining its offices in downtown Bristol, Va., and Abingdon into one site at the former Touchstone Wireless building here and adding more than 200 jobs to its current work force of 318 by the end of the year, company officials announced Thursday.
Bricker said 162 employees from the Bristol, Va., office and 156 workers currently in Abingdon will gradually begin moving into the new site, which has been vacant for nearly a year. The new call center should be fully operational by late October, she added.
"We think this location will be a wonderful one for our employees," Bricker said.
Company officials expect to make an estimated $4.1 million investment in the new site over the next few years. Bricker also said the former Touchstone facility -- which has more than 100,000 square feet -- "perfectly met" U.S. Solutions' desire for a larger site that could meet future expansion needs.
"This is a wonderful building, and we're planning some extensive renovations, as well," Bricker said.
Thursday's announcement capped off a nine-month effort by Bristol, Tenn., Sullivan County and state officials to find a new occupant to replace Touchstone, which ended its local operations last October -- months after being sold to Brightpoint North America, an Indiana-based phone supplier. Touchstone specialized in refurbishing cell phones and was one of the city's largest employers. During its last year, Touchstone had as many as 700 employees.
"We've been working very hard to find a new company to move in here, and it's great news to finally have this moment," said Richard Venable, CEO for NETWORKS Sullivan County Partnership.
Venable said U.S. Solutions will receive state incentives and grants from Tennessee as well as tax breaks from Sullivan County and Bristol, Tenn., as part of its financial package to relocate from Bristol, Va.
"When you look at the investment [U.S. Solutions] will make, along with the jobs they'll both bring now and create later, it's a clear benefit for our area," Venable said.
Bristol businessman and land developer Steve Johnson, who owns the downtown State Street office building that U. S. Solutions is vacating after 10 years, played a role in helping the company relocate to the larger site. He said Thursday he is "thrilled" that U.S. Solutions will remain in the Twin City.
"You guys are staying in Bristol, and that's the main thing," Johnson said during Thursday's announcement. "Who says big business can't happen in Bristol "
U.S. Solutions' relocation to Bristol, Tenn. marks the second time -- in less than a year -- that a telecommunications company has decided to move its call-center operations from the Virginia side of town to Tennessee.
Last November, Sprint announced it was moving a 600-employee call center to a site off state Route 394 in Bristol, Tenn. The company is expected to begin operations in its new home later this year.
Bristol, Va., City Manager Dewey Cashwell Thursday shrugged off the latest decision to move across the Twin City border.
"We've known for some while that was a prospect, so it's not a surprise," Cashwell said. "The workers will still be in the local area, so we don't foresee any dramatic economic effect on us."
Thursday's announcement is the latest high-profile business development in both Bristol cities.
Last week, Bristol, Va., announced an agreement with Cabela's for the national outdoors chain to become an anchor store in The Falls, the city's massive retail development off Exit 5 at Interstate 81 -- beginning in 2014.
Two days later, Bristol, Tenn., officials held a groundbreaking ceremony for the planned Bass Pro Shops store inside The Pinnacle, a 400-acre development about five miles up Interstate 81 off Exit 74. The Bass Pro Shops store is expected to open by fall 2013.
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