By Ian Ross
A Toronto telecommunications company with aspirations to go nationwide is setting up its first e-commerce contact centre in Sault Ste. Marie.
Multi-Channels Communications Inc. (MCCI) , a fledgling Toronto-based firm, expects to be operating a 200-seat e-commerce centre by late summer on a 3.4-acre property on Old Garden River Road.
Having already secured clients such as TELUS, one of Canada’s largest telecommunications services companies, and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, city officials were working fast to wrap the purchase of the former Ministry of Transportation property by late March to build MCCI a 30,000-square-foot facility.
With the company also in discussions with Air Canada and Chrysler, the intention is to eventually create 600 information technology positions within 13 months of opening its doors.
As the building’s main tenants, the MCCI centre will be a fully integrated customer relations and management facility delivering services such as billing inquiries through voice, e-mail, Web chat and other Web-enabled technologies.
Once a vacant piece of property is put up for sale by the Ontario Realty Corp., the city stands to gain between $95,000 and $105,000 in property taxes with the entire complex pegged to have an $18.8-million economic impact for the community.
The city was expected to buy a larger 20-acre piece of property from the realty corporation by the end of March,then sell a portion of that property, 3.4 acres, to the EDC for $129,523, and further provide the EDC with $325,0000 toward the project. The EDC would lease the building to MCCI for 10 years.
In mid-March, in what the Ontario government billed as Mega Monday, Minister of Mines and Northern Development Dan Newman kicked in $3 million in heritage funds toward the $7.7-million project’s financing, which will include $3.6 million from MCCI, a $390,000 municipal interest-free loan to the EDC, plus a $325,000-contribution from the city’s EDC fund.
After steadily building up a stable of call centres - RMH Teleservices, NuComm International, and a customer interaction centre, EDS Canada - and creating about 1,300 jobs in the past two years, the city is now planning on securing higher-end opportunities.
And this is the start of the next phase towards the city’s strategy to establish a smart park, says John Febbraro, industrial marketing co-ordinator with Sault Ste. Marie’s Economic Development Corp.
“Getting into the high-tech information technology, e-commerce type of industry, we consider it a new industry into the city,” says Febbraro.
On the property, across from the Water Tower Inn, the city intends to establish a knowledge-based research facility designed to promote collaborative research and development opportunities between industry, post-secondary institutions and possibly researchers.