Startek still has a presence in downtown Hamilton, but whether it will remain is unknown.
The Colorado-based business process outsourcing services company has a lease with Hamilton’s CORE Fund, the owner of the High Street building, until August 2023. But if the company remains at 170 High St. is unknown at this time, though they no longer have employees in the space it leases, according to Hamilton CORE Fund Executive Director Mike Dingeldein. He said they had a skeleton crew working out of the building while most employees have worked from home since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In the last eight weeks, they have shut down their servers and stuff at the High Street location,” he said. “They’re still paying their rent and they’re trying to sublet the space.”
Though no one reportedly works in the building as of now, they do have their name still on it.
But he said Startek has “mastered the post-pandemic solution of having their call center operate from individuals’ locations (homes).”
Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Dan Bates said the vacancy is an opportunity to further diversify the downtown, and it doesn’t believe it would be vacant for long.
“They may not find another large tenant for all that space, but if they found several smaller tenants, where each of them had 30, 40 employees but with higher wages, that’s going to be better for the downtown area,” he said. “Those are the people who bring more shopper foot traffic.”
Because of the business diversity in Hamilton, a potential loss of the company would not be a big hit to the city’s economic development. But a company downsizing or moving jobs out of Hamilton is something the city doesn’t want to see happen, said Hamilton Economic Development Director Jody Gunderson.
“Obviously, call centers have changed a lot of ways since the start of the pandemic,” he said. “It always seems like that industry is changing, especially after COVID.”
Heading into the COVID-19 pandemic, Startek had around 350 employees in Hamilton, according to Butler County Development. Startek invested millions of dollars to relocate to the city of Hamilton in 2015. The Journal-News has reached out to Startek for comment but had not heard before its deadline, and will update the story online if a response is received.
Startek doesn’t appear to be downsizing as its career site is advertising for jobs across the country, including in Hamilton. The company specifically advertised for remote workers that lived within an hour from Hamilton back in January. Startek has remote jobs it’s currently seeking to fill, according to its online careers site.
Dingeldein said the Hamilton CORE Fund, a nonprofit redevelopment fund, will still receive 18 months’ worth of rent from the company, but like Bates, he’s not concerned. He said the one-time Elder-Beerman department store is “more full than it’s ever been and new tenants, like U.S. Bank going in and United Heartland (Insurance) just went in.”
Dingeldein said they are looking to help find a new tenant, or tenants, for the upper floor, which is around 40,000 square feet. But Startek’s apparent departure from the city, from the standpoint of a landlord, is not a big concern.
“They’ve given us eight years as a full-floor tenant, so that’s been fantastic,” Dingeldein said.
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