DALLAS-Locally based Predium principals are headed into the final stretch of a three-year search to find and secure build-to-suit locations for Atlanta-based Cingular Wireless LLC. Deals are close to being inked in two more cities, with plans afoot to tap one more secondary or third-tier town.

Predium principal Mitch Wolff says Cingular is working to bring its customer-care operations back to US soil from off-shore locations. The telecommunications giant has opened the first in the pipeline, a 75,000-sf, ground-up center on the Riverwalk in Pueblo, CO. The center, like the rest that are planned, will house 500 to 600 employees. Cingular’s guarantee is a 10-year lease.

Wolff says deals are being ironed out in Joplin, MO and Davenport, IA. In each case, the build-to-suit projects will be about 75,000 sf to house similar-size customer-care groups. “There’s a fourth on the horizon, but we’ve not narrowed down the location,” he tells GlobeSt.com.

Wolff and Predium’s William Lacy surveyed 200 secondary and third-tier markets, focusing on workforce skills and availability. “What’s most important is a qualified, educated labor force that can take customer service to a whole new level,” Wolff stresses. In addition, Cingular’s goal was to locate in cities where it would be the “employer of choice” and “have a positive influence on the community,” he adds. In many cases, the cities had sustained manufacturing job losses so the replacement factor came into play.

“When you get to smaller towns, everyone’s motivated to get the real estate transaction done,” Wolff adds. “The most important part is the labor.”

If all goes as planned, the two pending deals will soon be done. “There are a lot of moving parts,” Wolff says, adding the plan is to have the centers up and running in the third quarter.

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