Published in Breaking News

Lost contract spurs Direct Dialog to close GR-area call center; firm working with MEDC to repay grant

BY Wednesday, August 24, 2016 02:50pm

GRAND RAPIDS — A call center operator says the loss of a key contract led to its decision to close its facility in the greater Grand Rapids area. 

According to Cheryl Yuran, executive vice president of human resources at Dialog Direct Inc., the company decided to shutter the Cascade Township operations and lay off 106 worker by Oct. 17 as a result of losing the contract. 

“We have business moving out from Dialog Direct and that’s the majority of the work at the Grand Rapids location and we don’t have the work to backfill those needs,” Yuran said.

The company is unsure if it will be able to add a new customer to the Grand Rapids facility, she added. 

The Highland Park-based call center operator is also in the process of working the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) to repay $272,000 of a $550,000 performance-based grant it was awarded in 2014 when it announced the creation of the Grand Rapids facility, said Josh Hundt, director of development finance at the MEDC.

Dialog Direct invested $1.5 million in the facility and committed to creating 287 jobs, according to a previous MiBiz report.

Talks with Dialog Direct over repayment of the 2014 grant stretched back a year as the company struggled to maintain the 142 jobs that prompted the initial payment of $272,000, Hundt said.

“We ensure there are repayment provisions in all of these agreements and we’re going to continue to work with this company and protect taxpayer dollars,” Hundt said.

The Right Place helped lead the company’s expansion into the greater Grand Rapids area in 2014 with a facility at 2905 Lucerne Drive SE in Cascade Township.

Dialog Direct, which rebranded from Novo 1 Inc. in 2014, also operates a facility in Holland where it employs 310 workers, Yuran said. The company opened its Holland facility in 2010.

The closure of the Grand Rapids area facility will not affect operations in Holland, Yuran said.

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