Monday brought good news for the Butte Plaza Mall.
That’s when mall officials learned that a deal to locate a 350-person call center in the shopping center was official.
“We’re really excited for this new opportunity for everybody,” said mall manager Alana Ferko, noting the development is music to the ears of both economic-development advocates and Butte Plaza officials.
The company behind the new call center is FCR, an Oregon-based provider of outsourced call centers and other business services.
The company, previously known as First Call Resolution, announced in November it would open a new facility in the Mining City in early 2019 and would bring up to 350 new jobs to the community. The company already has a location in Great Falls, as well as locations in Oregon, Mexico and Poland. The Butte facility will be the company’s ninth location.
Ken Averett, FCR director of facilities, said engineers and architects will be on site next week to get the ball rolling on the new 28,000-square foot facility, which will occupy the former location of JC Penney, in the southeast portion of the mall.
Averett said getting the space up to par won’t be a major construction overhaul. It will involve mostly aesthetic upgrades and equipment setup, including hauling in work stations, cubicle systems and more. The process usually takes about three or four months, Averett said, and will represent an over $1-million investment for the company.
“We’re excited to revitalize the area,” said Averett of the Butte mall, noting that the Harrison Avenue location offers ample parking and plenty of dining options for the approximately 350 employees expected to descend upon the new call center in 2019.
Dave Palmer, Butte-Silver Bow’s chief executive, told commissioners Wednesday night that the call center was great news. “It will put a lot of foot traffic in the mall and help the tenants there now survive,” he said.
Like many shopping centers, the Butte mall has been plagued by a series of bankruptcies among national retailers, which have seemed to fall like dominoes in recent years. This, said Ferko, has caused mall officials to look beyond the traditional image of what a mall is supposed to be.
“We know that in order to stay viable we have to embrace a mixed-use concept,” said Ferko, adding that she felt the center will be a “reboot” for the mall and all around a positive development for the community.
The new office will certainly be a boon to eateries along Harrison Avenue, but Ferko said Wednesday that businesses along the thoroughfare aren’t the only ones poised to benefit. She noted that the FCR facility will also likely increase the desirability of mall real-estate, especially for those looking to cash in on the presence of so many new warm bodies.
Ferko added that she felt “a lot of people worked hard,” to recruit the call center, crediting Butte’s economic-development team with bringing the mall to the table.