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Last updated: February 16. 2013 8:54PM - 413 Views

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WILKES-BARRE ‚?? Frontier Communications Corp. will relocate 110 employees to its Dallas Township site from a downtown office building by the end of the year.


The move follows the elimination of local and state tax breaks for Frontier with the expiration in 2010 of Keystone Opportunity Zone status for the Wilkes-Barre Center building where the company leased space on six floors.


Paul Quick, vice president and general manager of Frontier‚??s Pennsylvania operations, explained Friday the decision was made to consolidate operations and create a campus environment at its Back Mountain complex along state Route 309.


‚??KOZ is not a factor,‚?Ě Quick said.


The employees who work in engineering, sales and regulatory affairs will begin moving in mid-October and will join the 165 people in Dallas Township.


The company will begin renovating a former call center and assess the space and occupancy capabilities at its main building at the site, Quick added. ‚??This is a well thought-out decision. This is the direction we elected to go,‚?Ě Quick said.


Mayor Tom Leighton said in an email he was disappointed with the move. The city has been working to retain and attract businesses to the downtown where an estimated 15,000 people work.


‚??This was a private business decision and not driven by the economic-business climate in downtown,‚?Ě Leighton said.


The city along with Frontier and property owner Humford Equities are trying to fill the soon-to-be vacated space and replace the jobs lost, the mayor said.


A call to Rob Finlay, president of Humford Equities, was not returned.


Previously Finlay said the tax breaks allowed Humford to make an estimated $8 million in renovations and improvements at the building and reach nearly full occupancy.


The benefits initially went to Commonwealth Telephone Enterprises Inc. when it moved to the building in the spring of 2001 from the Back Mountain. At its peak Commonwealth had nearly 400 employees in the downtown in 2005.


Two years later Stamford, Conn.-based Frontier purchased Commonwealth for $1.16 billion and committed to staying downtown.


But the workforce has decreased since then and Frontier had a vacant building available in Dallas Township. In addition employees go back and forth between the offices.


Pat Amendola, a company spokeswoman, said Commonwealth and Frontier were different in size. The benefits received by the smaller Commonwealth were not of the same significance to the larger Frontier, she said.


In an email obtained by The Times Leader, Quick told employees the move was ‚??simply good business.‚?Ě


‚??We strive to be smart about how we use all our resources, and getting everyone together in a central setting promotes a more collaborative work environment,‚?Ě he said.


The company‚??s exit does not end its support of community events. It will continue to participate in downtown and Luzerne County events, the company said.


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