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New telework center to replace facility set to close

April 02, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER | kate.alexander@herald-mail.com
  • Jay McDowell, managing partner at Perry Funding in Hagerstown, is opening the Perry Telework Center at 651 Potomac Ave. on April 18.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — A Hagerstown company is opening a new telework center in the city after learning that the downtown government-funded telework center is scheduled to close.

The city of Hagerstown will officially close the Hagerstown Telework Center in the city-owned Elizabeth Hager Center on April 15, City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said.

Jay McDowell, managing partner at Perry Funding in Hagerstown, said his company will open the Perry Telework Center at 651 Potomac Ave. on April 18, the Monday after the downtown center closes.

The city housed and helped operate the Hagerstown Telework Center using funds from the General Services Administration (GSA) for the past 17 years.

Approximately $190,000 in annual federal funding was provided to the city to staff and run the center, Zimmerman said previously.

The GSA informed the city in 2010 that it would no longer fund its 14 telework centers in the Washington, D.C., area, starting March 31.

Budget cuts were cited as the reason to eliminate federal funding to the telework centers, Michael Pellegrino, director of the Hagerstown center, said previously.

In March, the Hagerstown City Council said it was not willing to operate the telework center without federal funding.

News of the Hagerstown center’s scheduled closure opened the door for Perry Funding, an equipment-financing company, to open an independently owned telework center, McDowell said.

McDowell said his current tenant, a Texas-based mortgage company, is moving out of his three-story building on Potomac Avenue.

“I have a tenant scheduled to move out today,” he said Thursday. “When I saw the date for the telework center’s closing, I realized the opportunity.”

The building on Potomac Avenue is laid out with 10 private offices on the first floor, ideal for providing quiet, productive spaces for teleworkers, he said.

His plan for now is to rent those offices on a daily basis to teleworkers at a rate of $60 per day.

The GSA charged teleworkers $72 per day, Pellegrino said previously.

McDowell, who owns the building, said he plans to create a total of 12 additional work spaces on the second and third floors.

Like the existing center, the Perry Telework Center will provide workers with access to phone lines, fax machines, copiers, small kitchen appliances and a conference room. It will also offer a laminating machine and a refrigerator.

“One advantage we can offer, though, is a completely private office for each worker,” McDowell said.

While government agencies and many private companies offer their workers the chance to telework a few days each week, he said not everyone wants to do that work at home.

Having a professional atmosphere away from children, pets and the distractions of home is something many workers value, he said.

McDowell also noted that the Perry Telework Center is open to workers in the private sector.

As of Thursday, McDowell said he contacted every federal agency in the D.C. area and had five clients preparing to use the center starting on April 18.

The Hagerstown Telework Center served about 25 people when news of its impending closure was made public, Pellegrino said.

McDowell said that like the Hagerstown Telework Center, Perry will staff its center during normal business hours.

However, clients will have keys and 24/7 access to the center so they can work when it is most convenient for them, he said.

Perry Funding is a commercial finance company that assists in funding needed equipment and assets for small and mid-sized business, medical and dental providers, municipalities and school boards nationwide, according to its website, perryfunding.net.

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