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CRC expecting to grow

Up to 30 jobs could be added within five years

Cooperative Response Center history:

• 1992 — Formed in rural Mower County by 19 member electric cooperatives in the Upper Midwest.

• 1995 — Achieved total revenue of more than $1 million.

• 2001 — Opened regional contact center in Dunlap, Tenn., to serve the southern United States.

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• 2002 — Built and moved into headquarters in northwest Austin and achieved more than $4 million in total revenue.

• 2006 — Generated more than $7 million in total revenue.

• 2007 — Built and moved into new facility in Dunlap, Tenn.

By Tim Ruzek

truzek@postbulletin.com

Cooperative Response Center is looking to add 30 full-time jobs in the next five years to its headquarters in Austin.

Where that growth will occur — either expanding the facility or relocating to another site in Austin — isn’t known yet, but work on whatever is the chosen project likely would begin next fall, said Brad Fjelsta, controller for the company.

"We’re a growing business," Fjelsta said, adding that the Austin facility doesn’t have enough space for the needed expansion.

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CRC officials would prefer to stay in the current Austin facility, Fjelsta said.

Word about CRC’s expansion plans arose Monday night at an Austin City Council work session during a discussion with John Garry, executive director of the private nonprofit Development Corp. of Austin, which seeks to help foster economic development.

CRC, cooperatively owned and operated, is a call center and central station that operates 24 hours a day, providing service for electric cooperatives nationwide. It employs 75 people in Austin and another 35 in Dunlap, Tenn., where the company opened a state-of-the-art facility in June after leasing space there for its regional-contact center that opened in 2001, Fjelsta said.

Another 20 jobs are expected to be added in the next five years at the Tennessee facility, he said.

Founded in 1992 just east of Austin along Interstate 90, CRC built and moved during 2000 into its current Austin facility at 2000 Eighth St. N.W. That location has been hot with commercial activity, with a Wal-mart Supercenter and a small shopping center being built by the CRC facility.

CRC serves 235 members and associate members with an estimated 3.5 million consumers in about 40 states.

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