Local firm to add 170 jobs over five yearsCHR Solutions gets package of incentives.
By: Frannie Sprouls, The Daily Republic
Over the next five years, a consulting firm for rural telecommunications companies plans to bring 170 new jobs to Mitchell.
CHR Solutions Inc. will add about 35 jobs per year, said Stan Victor, head of investor relations at CHR. The company, headquartered in Houston, Texas, provides services to rural telecoms in areas such as engineering, information technology and business consulting.
“We’re really excited about the prospects,” Victor said in a telephone interview. “It’s really great that we’re going to help a small town like Mitchell grow.”
CHR locations in Sioux Falls and Rapid City can also expect job growth in the next few years, the company announced, but no job numbers were provided for those cities.
The job additions are especially welcome in Mitchell. In April, the city lost 79 jobs when Verifications Inc., a human-resources services company, announced it will close its Mitchell location Nov. 16.
Through CHR’s expansion project, the company plans to double its Mitchell data center footprint and quadruple its computing capacity. The center is located at 1515 N. Sanborn Blvd.
Jobs created by the expansion will include data center and network support personnel, software support center staff, IT managed services support center personnel, customer support representatives, bill print expansion staff, trainers, software as a service support personnel, and administrative support.
CHR’s Mitchell location formerly housed Martin Group. That company was formed in 1971 as a consulting and engineering company specializing in telecommunications. Martin Group merged with CHR in September 2009.
“We know there’s an excellent workforce there,” Victor said. “We’ve had excellent support from the governor’s office and the Mitchell Area Development Corp. It made selecting Mitchell a no-brainer for us.”
The MADC and the South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development worked with CHR on an incentive package.
“These are good quality, very good quality jobs,” said Bryan Hisel, executive director of MADC, in a telephone interview. “It’s good pay and good benefits with an established firm that’s bringing opportunity for college and other training.”
Pat Costello, commissioner of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, said the office provided two grants to CHR — a $310,000 workforce development grant and a $500,000 technical assistance grant.
The first grant will help with training for the new employees, and the second will help offset the project cost, which requires a significant amount of new IT equipment, Costello said.
He said the Mitchell Area Development Corp. provided a loan of $187,000 to CHR Solutions, based on a rate of $1,100 per projected employee.
He said the loan includes a “clawback” provision to recover money if the projected number of employees is not reached.
The Daily Republic had asked the Mitchell Area Development Corp. to divulge its role in the incentive package before seeking the information from state government, but Bryan Hisel, executive director of the development corporation, declined to provide the information based on a request from CHR Solutions to keep it private.
Costello said the local and state assistance is justified by the quality of the jobs, including some that will pay more than $50,000 per year.
A news release about the project included comments from other officials, including Gov. Dennis Daugaard and CHR Solutions Chairman and CEO James Taylor.
“This business expansion is great news for the state of South Dakota,” Daugaard’s statement said. “Not only is CHR Solutions creating 170 jobs in Mitchell, it’s already teeing up job growth in both Sioux Falls and Rapid City. CHR Solutions is committed to South Dakota and recognizes the value of the South Dakota workforce.”
Taylor also spoke about the quality of the workforce.
“CHR Solutions continues to invest in the state of South Dakota because its leaders truly understand the value of the state’s workforce and the importance of lowering the overall cost of doing business. This project reinforces our long-term presence in Mitchell, which houses our largest facility with the most employees.”
The company’s expected growth comes from what it described as “two economic realities.” First, its rural telecom clients plan to increase revenue by offering new IT services powered by CHR’s cloud computing network.
Second, rural telecoms are expected to outsource certain costs to providers such as CHR Solutions to handle tasks including billing and printing, regulatory filings and reports, cost recovery, accounting and network provisioning.