Phase 2 will expand in Vermillion; Arizona-based firm will add 250 jobs and strong growth potential

Phase 2 will expand in Vermillion; Arizona-based firm will add 250 jobs and strong growth potential Chris Braendlin (right), commissioner of the Governor's Office of Economic Development, presents a South Dakota state flag to Dave Ammons, vice president of corporate operations of Phase 2 Solutions at Monday's press conference in Vermillion. by David Lias Vermillion is about to enter a new phase in industrial growth � Phase 2, specifically.

At a Monday morning press conference on the campus of The University of South Dakota, state and community leaders announced that Phase 2 Solutions, an Arizona-based provider of customer services for the wireless, travel, medical and distance learning industries, will set up shop here.

The company will create up to 250 jobs and will locate in Vermillion's 18,000 square foot Gateway facility.

Larry Willett, president, stated in a written release distributed at the press conference said that Phase 2 is excited to have a presence in Vermillion.

"We had a variety of other opportunities to locate elsewhere, but the trained and motivated work force at the Gateway Center, and the cooperation of the state of South Dakota and the city of Vermillion tipped the scale," he said.

Willett said that timelines are still being formulated, but the company has identified about 95 positions to be filled immediately with another 105 positions to be filled during the course of the month of November.

"Additional capacity will be utilized at the facility as other business is placed. Preferential hiring status will be offered to all former Gateway employees impacted by the shutdown.

"Despite economic uncertainties, Phase 2 is confident that it will enjoy additional growth in South Dakota," he said.

The Vermillion community is also looking forward to continued growth.

"The addition of a company like Phase 2 Solutions adds immensely to the positive business climate in Vermillion," said Mayor Roger Kozak. "Phase 2 Solutions will be an excellent fit into the community and its presence will strengthen other progressive growth-oriented activities already in motion.

"There is no doubt that this company will further improve Vermillion's reputation as a great place to do business � a great place to live, to learn, and to work," he added.

Phase 2 is a solution provider for a variety of companies desiring inbound customer service, outbound acquisition of both retail and business subscribers for wireless, cable, medical, distance learning and billing management services. The company was founded in 1994 by Rob Miller, CEO, and Willett as a wireless cellular service reseller. It quickly became the eight largest reseller in the nation.

"For the seven years that Phase 2 has been in business, we have looked for ways to offer cost efficient, quality results to our customers as we have evolved from a wireless re-seller to a solutions provider for a number of business types," said Dave Ammons, the company's vice president of corporate operations, who attended Monday's press conference.

Phase 2's customer needs have grown, he said, and the firm has outstripped its capacity at its Scottsdale, AZ location.

"It became critical that we explore new venues to accommodate the growth, and the call center here at the former Gateway center was one of many options that we considered, but Vermillion quickly rose to the top our list for a number of reasons," Ammons said.

Expanding in Vermillion, he said, is economically viable.

"The government and the state, along with the local development community made every effort to accommodate us as quickly as possible, which was necessary in terms of our customer needs, and probably most importantly, it just felt right, and it was the people here who created that feeling."

Ammons said Phase 2 officials encountered an educated labor base with strong experience in call center work, and people in local organizations who cooperated with the company's efforts here.

Phase 2's efforts were also masterfully coordinated by local and state economic development officials.

"And there was such a warm reception that we received, none more representative than by April Halsey at the Hy-Vee this morning," Ammons said.

He visited the Vermillion store Monday morning to purchase cold medicine. Halsey noticed the Phase 2 logo embroidered on Ammon's shirt, and asked him about it.

"I explained who we were, and she said, 'yes, I've heard something about that,' and she extended her hand and shook mine, and this is the epitome of what we are finding in Vermillion."

"This is an important announcement for South Dakota, it's an important announcement for Vermillion, and it's an important announcement for all of those people who work at Gateway today," said Chris Braendlin, commissioner of the Governor's Office of Economic Development (GOED).

Phase 2, he said, will take over in Vermillion almost immediately after the closing of the Gateway facility.

"It's really, truly been a partnership with the city of Vermillion, the Vermillion Development Company, the GOED, and all different sorts of government entities," he said.

Vermillion's strong labor force, Braendlin said, helped tip the scales in its favor.

"Vermillion has shown that it it has a strong labor force. Gateway has been very pleased with the labor that it has had in Vermillion," he said. "When we started this whole project, we

had literally up to 12 companies that looked at the Gateway facility. At the end of the day, Phase 2 was the company that ended up coming to Vermillion.

"They outbid all of the others, and were lucky enough to get a facility that is already up and running, basically, and you have a quality labor force out there," Braendlin said.

Phase 2, he said, will also bring tremendous management to its Vermillion facility.

"From the state side, it has been a coordination among Gateway, Phase 2 and the development organizations in setting this all up," he said.

"We have found a good fit for our corporate culture and a great climate for our business," Ammons said.

He noted that the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the East Coast, and the U.S. war on terrorism have evoked a great deal of caution that has made Americans anxious about the future.

"Phase 2 is convinced that we must find the resolve to move forward," Ammons said. "One of the most patriotic things that we can do is to help rebuild strong economies locally and nationally, and Phase 2 is intent on making a contribution in some small way that helps propel the country forward."

"I am so pleased to see that we have got representation from county government, city government, school board, up and down Main Street � this is fantastic. I really appreciate your showing your interest in our activities today. We have representations from the service organizations in town, the One Stop Career Center, Job Link, the Southeastern Council of Governments, and Gateway," Kozak said.

"This is a great day in Vermillion, isn't it?" said John Paulson, president of the Vermillion Development Company. "You're really going to get excited about Phase 2 as you learn more about the company."

Paulson told Ammons that the Vermillion community is honored to have been chosen as the site for the company's expansion.

"We appreciate the values you have as a company, your hard work, respect and professionalism," Paulson said to Ammons, "and what your company represents in terms of employee empowerment, customer service and entrepreneurship."

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