Lynn, Connection agree to 10-year lease, office relocation

Photo by Gavin Paterniti The current and future home of The Connection in Jamestown. The top call center company based in Minnesota recently signed a 10-year lease to move into the Lynn Building downtown. The company employs about 200 workers.

JAMESTOWN — A new agreement between a downtown developer and major employer of area residents has resulted in the retaining of about 200 jobs in the city of Jamestown.

The Lynn Development Group announced this week that it has struck up a long-term lease agreement with The Connection, which will keep the employer local for the foreseeable future and provide for significant upgrades that will benefit both entities.

The lease agreement is for 10 years and includes the relocation of The Connection’s offices from their current home in the Furniture Mart Building to the Lynn Building — the former Jamestown Post Office building at 301 E. Second St. — sometime in the fall. Negotiations surrounding the agreement had been in the works for some time and involved support from government officials at varying levels — including Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi, Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello and state Sen. Cathy Young.

The Connection is a top call center company based in Minnesota providing call center services for small businesses to Fortune 100 companies, including call center outsourcing, consulting and training. The local division came to Jamestown in 2006 with a 20-seat pilot operation following an initiative by the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency and other organizations to bring the call center to the area. Full operations began in 2007.

Fred Weiner, founder and chief executive officer of The Connection, said he is pleased with the agreement and looking forward to furthering his company’s relationship with Lynn Development.

“I’m excited for this opportunity to continue operations in Jamestown from within a beautiful building,” Weiner said. “The Furniture Mart has served its purpose for many years, but there was nothing on the horizon to indicate that we could move forward with enticing prospective clients and growing our operation at that location. The new space Lynn Development is putting together for us will help facilitate those things, and we want to thank everyone at all levels who assisted us in finding a solution.”

The Connection’s Furniture Mart offices have experienced a tumultuous past year. In June, cooling system leak occurred causing a full building evacuation and 14 employees to visit the UPMC Chautauqua WCA emergency room for breathing difficulties. A broken valve was later determined to have caused the leak.

Jason Spain, president and chief executive officer of Lynn Development, said this agreement will work in concert with $2 million worth of market rate improvements to the Lynn Building’s second floor, which will be the future home of the call center as well as a common space area and food and beverage commissary for use by its employees.

“We’re certainly happy to have been selected as the site for the long-term home of The Connection,” Spain said. “We’re eager to finish these improvements we’re making to the building so we can provide a home for The Connection and its team members.”

Weiner expressed his satisfaction that the new space within the Lynn Building will be centrally located on one floor, and will not require elevator access in order to move throughout the entirety of The Connection’s offices.

Spain said Lynn Development has been working with city officials for approximately three years to repurpose the Lynn Building, and design work for optimal utilization of the second floor have been underway for about a year. He said the building, which is also home to Infinity Visual and Performing Arts along with Chautauqua Striders, will reach 95 percent occupancy with the addition of The Connection’s offices.