Call Center Jobs

As 2017 draws to a close, Southern Tier Economic Growth on Tuesday highlighted several promising projects that are expected to bear fruit in the next year or two.

Among the projects with the most potential — a national home furnishing business plans to bring more than 450 jobs to Big Flats for a future in-bound call center.

And the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) is renewing its commitment to locate a campus in Elmira, despite several regulatory setbacks.

Several other projects that have been on the drawing board for months or years are very close to moving ahead, STEG President Michael Krusen said in his address to the group.

An initiative known as Project C would bring Wayfair — a national home furnishing e-commerce customer service business — to the former Corning Shared Services Building on the Airport Corporate Park campus along Daniel Zenker Drive in Big Flats.

The company would use the facility for an in-bound call center and would create 450 jobs over the next three years, with an additional 125 jobs possible pending further incentives.

“These are jobs in the $38,000 range with good benefits,” Krusen said. “It will fill a long-vacant building. It’s not definite until it’s definite, but they want to be here. They made it clear this is their next site.”

The project is pending final state tax and finance approval and if all hurdles are cleared, startup could take place by next fall, Krusen said.

STEG also invited Dr. Richard Terry, LECOM assistant dean of regional clinical education, to provide an update on the project that has failed several attempts to obtain accreditation from the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation.

Despite the setbacks, LECOM plans to submit a new application in 2018 with expanded staff numbers and enhanced facility requirements that will hopefully win commission approval.

The new campus would bring at least 350 medical students to the area, along with faculty and staff, and LECOM will persist until it gets approval to move ahead, Terry said.

“We already have a collaborative effort with Arnot Health. We have 100 students within three hospitals,” he said. “This is important for the recruitment and retention of doctors. We need to finish this project. We need to create a pipeline. We’re committed to that. We have tremendous support. We continue to work to bring this project to Elmira.”

The STEG 2017 annual report also touched on several other projects in the works — including the Elmira West Water Street commercial/residential building.

Krusen said he was hoping to have an announcement on that project by this week, but is still waiting for a go-ahead from the state.

In addition, Libertad Elmira will undertake a $20 million renovation of the former Jones Court apartment complex along Baldwin Street. The project to bring back a building that has been a major Northside blight for years will provide 94 affordable housing units.

Abatement is expected to take place before the end of the year.

Conversion of the closed Lake Street bridge for pedestrian and bicycle use is funded and ready to move ahead, Krusen said.

Other projects expected to move forward in 2018 include the redevelopment of the area around the former Deister & Butler Jewelers into a public square, rehabilitation of the downtown parking garage, and rehabilitation of several old buildings in the downtown district.

There are still several financial and regulatory hurdles to clear, according to STEG board Chairman Arie “Jan” van den Blink, but he believes things are moving in the right direction.

“I’ve been in Elmira over 30 years,” he said. “I don’t remember a more exciting time.”