A vis­ually stun­ning grand open­ing for Xplor­net

Standard-Freeholder (Cornwall) - - NEWS - ALAN S. HALE ahale@post­media.com twit­ter.com/alan_S_hale

Af­ter two years of plan­ning as well as a year of ren­o­va­tions and work­ing out of tem­po­rary of­fices, the new call cen­tre in­side the Cotton Mills build­ing fi­nally had its grand open­ing on Thurs­day morn­ing.

The call cen­tre is run by Xplor­net, an in­ter­net ser­vice provider that fo­cuses on pro­vid­ing high­speed in­ter­net to ru­ral ar­eas. The Corn­wall lo­ca­tion is the com­pany ’s third call cen­tre and the first out­side of New Brunswick.

Like most of the of­fices and re­tail spa­ces in­side the Cotton Mills, the new Xplor­net call cen­tre is vis­ually impressive with a great amount of the orig­i­nal in­dus­trial ar­chi­tec­ture pre­served and in­cor­po­rated into the de­sign. Wooden beams line the ceil­ing, the walls made of ex­posed brick and the re­fin­ished orig­i­nal wood floor still cov­ered with vis­i­ble scrapes and burns from long-re­moved ma­chin­ery.

Mayor Les­lie O’Shaugh­nessy couldn’t help but praise the space’s vis­ual ap­peal.

“I would love to have a home that looked like this. It’s so warm, bright and cheery,” said the mayor. “As a mat­ter of fact, I’ve picked the new lo­ca­tion for the mayor’s of­fice, and it’s right back there.”

Jokes aside, the open­ing of the call cen­tre marks Xplor­net’s emer­gence as a new large em­ployer for Corn­wall. The space has room for 140 desks, but with a seat-shar­ing sys­tem in places, the com­pany be­lieves they will be able to em­ploy 180 to 200 em­ploy­ees at the call cen­tre. Cur­rently, they em­ploy 130 peo­ple; al­most all of whom were hired from the Corn­wall area over the past sev­eral months.

Xplor­net CEO Allison Lene­han hinted that the com­pany might con­sider ex­pand­ing its op­er­a­tions in Corn­wall even fur­ther.

“We’re at 130 peo­ple, and we’re al­ready run­ning out of space, so that’s a pretty good in­di­ca­tor. I’ll have to talk to the mayor about hav­ing more jobs brought to the area in the near fu­ture,” said Lene­han.

The in­ter­net ser­vice provider be­gan ex­plor­ing its op­tions for a new lo­ca­tion about two years ago. The com­pany wanted a site out­side of New Brunswick so they could im­prove their “geo­graphic di­ver­sity.”

The prac­ti­cal ef­fect of this is if there is a win­ter storm or a wide­spread power out­age in New Brunswick — like the one that prov­ince suf­fered last year — then the On­tario lo­ca­tion would be un­af­fected and vice versa.

“It’s not good from a call cen­tre per­spec­tive to have all your eggs in one bas­ket,” ex­plained Cathy MacDon­ald, vice-pres­i­dent of in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy.

Xplor­net be­gan look­ing for lo­ca­tions in East­ern On­tario and also toured the Nav Cen­tre in Corn­wall be­fore as well, but chose to set up in­side the Cotton Mills. MacDon­ald said she and the other ex­ec­u­tives tour­ing po­ten­tial lo­ca­tions “fell in love” with the build­ing.

“We im­me­di­ately be­gan de­vel­op­ing the vi­sion and the busi­ness case for what we thought was the ideal lo­ca­tion for Xplor­net’s re­gional of­fice and call cen­tre.

Corn­wall’s other ad­van­tages, such as a large work­force with a high preva­lence of bilin­gual­ism, said MacDon­ald, was what cinched the deal.

ALAN S. HALE/CORN­WALL STAN­DARD-FREEHOLDER

A panoramic view of one of the main rooms of the new Xplor­net call cen­tre dur­ing its grand open­ing on Thurs­day.

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