CRC plans major expansion

Published 10:22 am Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Present and future economic growth has prompted Cooperative Response Center Inc. to begin planning for short- and long-term expansions that will add dozens of new jobs to Austin and cost millions of dollars.

“Myself and other staff feel that this is an extremely exciting project not for this phase one plan, but also their long-term growth plans,” community development director Craig Hoium wrote in a memorandum distributed to Austin City Council members Monday.

During the work session meeting, Hoium said the company, which serves as a call center and alarm-monitoring hub, has been working with local leaders to develop a two-phase expansion, the first to begin as early as 2009.

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“The company has also requested consideration from either the City of Austin or the Port Authority in any financial assistance that may be offered for phase one of their current facility,” Hoium wrote, adding he will contact state agencies about subsidy programs as well.

Next year’s projected project is likely to include $1.1 million to $1.4 million in additions to its current building, off 18th Avenue Northwest.

The expansion would include up to 11,000 square-feet of more space, which will likely accommodate several dozen new employees — from 125 to 150 over the next five years, Hoium said. They currently employ 104 people.

Phase two, to take place over the next 10 to 15 years, will include a new $3 million to $4 million facility in Austin.

Hoium said of the 17 sites reviewed, the CRC has expressed most interest in two sites located at the Cook Farm Industrial site off Highway 218 North.

The two parcels, positioned on the southeast and southwest corners of the industrial park, each offer a set of amenities and drawbacks, Hoium said, that include infrastructure needs and regulatory restrictions.

If completed, CRC would could provide a total of 270 jobs in town.

“That’s a substantial growth for one the major employers in town,” Hoium said.

CRC representatives could not be reached for comment, though company controller Brad Fjelsta said in communications with city staff that economic growth is the prime reason for their development discussions.

“CRC is experiencing and continues to forecast and project strong growth in operations over the next five years,” said he in a July 29 e-mail to Hoium. “CRC is projecting revenue numbers to increase from $8 million to almost $12.5 million over the next five years.”

Hoium said the company board of directors will deliberate plans during its September meeting. CRC also runs a facility in Tennessee.