A global research firm is in the final stages of negotiating a lease to locate a telephone research centre in Prince George.
Synovate has picked Prince George over two other Western Canadian communities to locate its newest call centre, confirmed Bill Gaffin, the company’s director of telephone research services.
The deal is by no means complete, he stressed.
But barring unforeseen obstacles, the company could make an announcement within the month.
“Prince George is the first choice at this point, but we have to finalize all the details before we can say for sure.”
If they complete the deal, Gaffin said the company would like to be up and running by July.
He was not able to say where the centre would locate until a lease agreement is signed.
Prince George’s high quality and readily available workforce was what put the city in the number one spot to get Synovate’s business, said Gaffin.
“Prince George’s response to our advertising was much more impressive that the other two markets.”
He wouldn’t reveal which other Canadian communities the company has been looking at.
Representatives from Synovate have visited Prince George in recent months to look at real estate options in the city. They have also run two sets of ads to gauge the level of interest and skills of applicants.
The company, if it is to locate here, would eventually create at least 200 entry-level part-time jobs, another two dozen part-time supervisory positions, and about six full-time managerial jobs, said Gaffin. It would open with a much smaller number of employees, however, and would gradually grow to full capacity.
Unlike call centres such as LiveBridge, which opened in Prince George last fall, Synovate does not do any telemarketing. It is strictly a market research organization.
As for LiveBridge, the call centre said it would this week be calling back workers laid off in the wake of the war in Iraq.
The call centre’s sole client, U.S.-based BankOne, suspended telemarketing activities temporarily after the start of the war.
LiveBridge still sits at roughly 75 employees after laying off 95 people last month.
The company does expect to begin to increase its workforce again starting in April, said Donald Vena, vice-president of human resources with LiveBridge.