By CHARIS ANDERSON
NEW BEDFORD — UpSource Inc. has committed to a 10-year lease for space in a Belleville Avenue mill to house a growing call center, according to a company official.
The lease, which takes effect Jan. 15, cements the company’s relationship to the space, which it has been inhabiting on a temporary basis since August, said Susan Cohen, UpSource’s vice president of client relations.
The company has more than doubled its workforce since moving into New Bedford, hiring 32 people to bring its total employment to 58 full-time employees, Cohen said.
UpSource acquired the call center, which was previously located in the former AT&T building on Mill Road in Fairhaven, in November 2010 and has been working with the city since that time to find space in New Bedford, Cohen said.
“The management team and the owner of the company were really committed to keeping the jobs that were in Fairhaven when we moved the center,” she said.
“But we were committed to not just taking the work and rolling it into other centers but to finding a permanent home in the New Bedford area.”
About 26 of the company’s new employees were brought on to service the Neat Co., which offers integrated scanning and software solutions to consumers and small businesses.
The Neat Co. has been an UpSource client since September, Cohen said.
Cohen said there is potential for further growth at the New Bedford call center.
Employee wages range from $10.50 to $15.50 an hour, and employees receive benefits including a partially subsidized HMO plan with Blue Cross Blue Shield and paid vacation and holiday time, Cohen said.
UpSource originally had considered moving to the Webster Bank building in downtown New Bedford but ultimately determined that space wouldn’t meet their needs, she said.
The call center in August moved on a temporary basis into raw mill space at 615-689 Belleville Ave., between Hatch Street and Belleville Road. Now that a permanent lease on that location has been signed, construction to upgrade the space will start, according to Cohen.
“It’s going to be an exciting showplace location for us when it’s done,” she said.
UpSource received about $350,000 in loans for equipment and working capital from MassDevelopment and the NBEDC in November, according to Cohen. Those loans closed in November, according to Matthew A. Morrissey, executive director of the NBEDC.
The mill, which is owned by the Nashawena Mills Corp., also houses Joseph Abboud Manufacturing and Regal House Classic Furniture Clearance Center. Morrissey said the city has been working closely with UpSource for a long time to help them find a home in New Bedford.
“It’s been a terrific relationship. They’re a very good company,” he said. “We are delighted that they’re growing in New Bedford.”
Mayor Jon Mitchell called UpSource’s decision to expand in the Nashawena Mill “exciting news for New Bedford.”
“This marks the first time that a company has reused a mill in that district for professional space,” Mitchell said.
“It’s exciting to know that there’s room for additional growth once they’ve built out the space.”
According to UpSource’s website, the company provides outsourced sales, support and technology services to industries that include retail, telecom and health care.
The company also operates call centers in Nova Scotia and Oklahoma.
UpSource has a virtual headquarters, although its corporate address is in West Tisbury on Martha’s Vineyard, according to Cohen.
January 12, 2012 12:00 AM
By CHARIS ANDERSON