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Tuesday, April 20, 1999


Collection
firm to open call
center in Hilo

The company hopes to
hire up to 100 and take advantage
of Hawaii's time zone

By Russ Lynch
Star-Bulletin

Tapa

A Pennsylvania debt-collection business that works with banks, mortgage companies and other lenders across the country, said today it plans to open a call center in Hilo and hire a staff of 75-100.

Penncro Associates Inc., based in Southampton, Penn., hopes to take advantage of Hawaii's time zone so its callers can work telephones during the day to talk to mainlanders at their homes in the evenings.

There is also a possibility that the company could use Hawaii time to its advantage in the other direction, making calls at night to places in Asia, according to sources close to the two months of negotiations that have taken place to bring the company here.

Penncro officials were not available this morning. The company planned a late-morning news conference in Hilo to talk about the plans.

The company said the move is conditional on state certification of its office as an Enterprise Zone, which would give it a tax break. State officials say they believe the company will qualify for that designation.

The time zone is not the only factor, said J.W.A. "Doc" Buyers, president of the Hawaii Island Economic Development Board and chairman of Hilo-based C. Brewer & Co. "It's the investment GTE and others have put into fiber optics and other communications equipment that makes all this possible. This wouldn't have been possible two years ago." He said he believes a move such as Penncro's could attract other businesses with similar communications needs.



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