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.