Roby Brock says an economic development announcement at the governor's office this morning will be one of the biggest win-wins for the state in a long time.
Telecom sector. Former Acxiom building in WLR may be involved.
UPDATE: Arkansas Blogger anticipated the news. It's the announcement that Allied Wireless, a subsidiary of Atlantic Tele-network, will locate corporate headquarters here. Some 200-300 jobs will come with it, according to today's announcement.
Atlantic Tele-network acquired divested Alltel and Verizon cellular assets after their merger and so this operation will put people back to work who were laid off or expected to be laid off at the former Alltel otherwise. Former Alltel exec Frank O'Mara joined the company to head its wireless division in September.
There'd been speculation for months that Atlantic, once it received government approval for its acquisitions related to the Alltel merger, would set up an operation in Little Rock where a ready pool of Alltel workers exists.
The head of Atlantic was quoted in an August news article that he expected to locate in Little Rock in the next year or two and hire as many as 500 workers over time.
[Atlantic CEO Michael] Prior said factors working in Little Rock's favor are that "we know it's a great place to live ... we've heard a lot from local business people that it's a good place to have a business presence. There's a lot of positives. And of course, there's a lot talented people from Alltel."
It's more like job salvation than creation, but it's good news for the season whatever you call it.
News release follows. LR Mayor Stodola seems to be claiming credit for the city's "partnership" with (read unaccountable taxpayer subsidy for) LR Regional Chamber of Commerce. I'm thinking the old real estate maxim is more important -- location, location, location. Go where the assets are. Atlantic acknowledged as much months ago.
STATE AEDC NEWS RELEASE
LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (December 15, 2009) – Allied Wireless Communications Corporation (AWCC), a subsidiary of Atlantic Tele-Network, Inc. (NASDAQ: ATNI), today announced plans to locate its corporate headquarters in Little Rock. Atlantic Tele-Network, a telecommunications/wireless company, will invest more than $200 million through the purchase of existing wireless assets from Verizon Wireless and the refurbishment of new headquarters for AWCC on Technology Drive. AWCC currently plans to create at least 200-250 jobs in Little Rock, most of which will be highly paid, professional and technical positions.
AWCC was formed in connection with ATN’s agreement to purchase wireless properties, licenses and network assets from Verizon Wireless, as announced in June 2009. The sale of assets to ATN is expected to close in early 2010, and is subject to the receipt of required regulatory approvals. Verizon was required by the Federal Communications Commission to sell these wireless assets as part of their acquisition of Alltel Corporation. Following the closing, AWCC will provide wireless service to more than 800,000 former Alltel subscribers in six states. In addition to the 200-250 new jobs in Little Rock, AWCC will initially employ more than 500 people in those states.
Frank O’Mara, a former Executive Vice President of Alltel Corporation, was named Chief Executive Officer of AWCC in September 2009. Most recently, O’Mara served as a partner of Circumference Group, a technology investment and consulting firm which has been providing strategic advice and support to ATN in connection with this acquisition. Other former Alltel executives have been named to the corporate leadership team in the areas of IT, HR, and Administration.
“Delivering a seamless transition and exceptional customer service is our highest priority,” said Michael Prior, CEO of Atlantic Tele-Network. “By locating AWCC’s corporate headquarters in Little Rock, we’ll be able to deliver service to our customers with an experienced and highly knowledgeable workforce. As we work to fill more than 200 new positions throughout 2010, we will have access to a large pool of talented professionals, many with telecom experience.”
Prior continued, “We appreciate the commitment and encouragement we have received from Governor Beebe and Arkansas’s leadership. Their support, along with the area’s professional talent, will allow us to grow and thrive in Arkansas and the communities they will be serving.”
ATN, headquartered in Salem, Massachusetts, operates advanced wireless, wireline and both terrestrial and submarine fiber optic networks in North America and the Caribbean. ATN serves markets ranging from the American southwest to tropical islands in the Caribbean to the Northwoods of New York and New England.
“These are exactly the kinds of technology-based, high-paying jobs we’ve been working to bring to Arkansas,” Governor Mike Beebe said. “We appreciate Allied Wireless Communications recognizing the strength and growth potential Little Rock and this region have in this industry. Arkansas has the workforce that ATN needs to be successful in our State.”
AWCC expects to be hiring new employees in Little Rock throughout 2010. Those interested in employment opportunities and AWCC company facts can visit www.awcc.com for additional information.
“I want to congratulate AWCC on the decision to locate their corporate headquarters in Little Rock as well as thank the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Arkansas Economic Development Commission for their work on this project,” said Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola. “These projects don’t just happen and we are proud partners with these organizations in working to move our economy forward. It is because of this partnership that Little Rock’s unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the country and recently ranked as the 4th best metropolitan economy in the country.”
Additional information can be found online at www.atni.com.
About Atlantic Tele-Network
Atlantic Tele-Network, Inc. (NASDAQ:ATNI), headquartered in Salem, Massachusetts, is a telecommunications company operating advanced wireless, wireline, and both terrestrial and submarine fiber optic networks in North America and the Caribbean. In addition to AWCC, its principal subsidiaries include: Commnet Wireless, LLC, which provides voice and data wireless roaming services for U.S. and international carriers in rural areas throughout the United States; Guyana Telephone & Telegraph Company, Ltd., which is the national telephone service provider for all local, long-distance and international services in Guyana, as well as a wireless service provider; Bermuda Digital Communications, Ltd., which is a leading provider of wireless voice and data services in Bermuda operating as Cellular One, and also an early-stage wireless provider in Turks & Caicos through its IslandCom subsidiary; Sovernet, Inc., which provides wireline voice and data services to businesses and homes in New England and high capacity communications network transport services in New York State through its ION subsidiary; and Choice Communications, LLC, which provides wireless broadband services in the U.S. Virgin Islands.