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New Charter complex breaks ground

By Jeff Kiger

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

The connection is now official and a major new complex will soon start to come into focus on Rochester’s northwest side.

Business leaders in hard hats tossed dirt with golden shovels Monday to ceremonially launch construction of Charter Communications’ $5 million complex.

The cable, telephone and Internet provider is building an almost 31,000-square-foot facility with a warehouse and a garage for the company’s truck fleet. It will overlook Superior Drive Northwest from a hillside by the CineMagic Theatres.

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"This will allow us to bring departments that have been spread out across three or four buildings under one roof," said John Crowley, vice president and general manager for Charter in Minnesota after the ground breaking.

Crowley cited the location’s proximity to U.S. 14 and Olmsted County Highway 22 as making it attractive for his office staff and the field crews.

"And I think this is going to be a great location for customers as well. It has very good access," he said.

Charter has 600 employees supporting a regional headquarters in Rochester and the plan is to move more than 200 of those workers in the new complex. The target opening is July or August.

The site will serve about 350,000 subscribers in Minnesota and Nebraska.

Many of those employees will move from Charter’s local headquarters on East Circle Drive. Charter will move out of that building completely. The seven-year-old call center on Bandel Road Northwest will remain unchanged, other than one department — about 30 people — that will move to the new facility.

While the new complex is built to allow for future growth, it will not open with any new Rochester jobs based there

However, "It is a domino effect," Crowley said.

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The call center will fill the void left by the people moved out of the Bandel Road site, he said. And that means an additional 30 Charter jobs in Rochester.

Local leaders at the groundbreaking included Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director John Wade; Rochester Area Economic Development Inc. President Gary Smith; the project’s contractor, Pete Shuller of AB Systems, and Ed Pompeian, the Rochester real-estate agent who handled the deal.

"To see this kind of investment is not only appreciated, it really shows the future of this community and why this community is good to invest in," Wade said after the event.

Charter spokesman Tucker Carlson said there were many reasons the company was investing in Rochester with such a large project.

"There’s the quality of the community and its proximity to everything else in the region," he said. "It is growing. And it is an extension of the Twin Cities, but it is its own separate community."

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