Bell Atlantic cites Baltimore success in growth Company adding 132 jobs to downtown office within 6 months

June 19, 1996|By Timothy J. Mullaney | Timothy J. Mullaney,SUN STAFF

Bell Atlantic Corp. yesterday announced as expected that it will expand jobs in Baltimore, adding 132 positions within six months as the company continues to re-engineer itself to meet upcoming competition in the local telephone service business.

The move, formally unveiled at a news conference, follows last year's decision to move 600 workers to 1 East Pratt St. and will bring the total number of jobs at the downtown headquarters to 1,416, Bell Atlantic spokesman Michel Daley said.

Even when Bell Atlantic was organized differently and included a Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. of Maryland unit more autonomous than today's Bell Atlantic-Maryland, the Pratt Street building never housed more than 800 people, Daley said.

"The reception we received last year and the success of last year's consolidation certainly strengthened our ability" to convince Bell Atlantic's corporate officers to concentrate more jobs here, Bell Atlantic-Maryland president Daniel J. Whelan said.

He added that the company is negotiating a package of incentives with the state, which he said is likely to include funds to pay for worker training and for renovations at 1 East Pratt to accommodate the new workers.

Whelan said one-third to one-half of the positions will be filled by new hires, and the rest will be filled by people transferred from other Bell Atlantic locations. He said three of the jobs will be clerical work, and the rest will be managerial posts.

At the news conference, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke hailed the announcement as evidence that cities can stay competitive even as the economy moves further away from manufacturing and into an age in which people build wealth by managing information that can be moved much more easily than material goods.

"Most people thought the communications revolution was going to be the death knell of urban centers," he said.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening said the announcement was part of a cluster of positive economic developments in the past week, including Safeway Inc.'s decision to build an $85 million Prince George's County warehouse after reaching a new agreement with labor and Concentra Medical Centers' announcement that it will expand its physician practice management business into Maryland, adding up to 150 jobs.

"Contrary to some of the doom and gloom you hear, Maryland is also very competitive," said the governor, who himself has made some of the gloomiest statements linking Maryland's low rate of job growth since the 1990-1991 recession to a tax and regulatory climate called more onerous than those in Virginia and North Carolina. "But we have to sharpen our pencil."

The governor said the positions will be "good-paying, family-supporting" jobs, the same language he used last week to praise Concentra's expansion. He added that the Bell Atlantic expansion strengthens the state's position in an industry that is key to the emerging economy.

"We all know where the jobs of the future are," the governor said. "Those are the areas of our growth and we're going to the areas of our strength with great success."

The new Bell Atlantic managers at Pratt Street will focus on two assignments, the company said. Some will be designing a new network system to deliver voice, video and data to customers throughout the six states and the District of Columbia that Bell Atlantic serves. The others will prepare Bell Atlantic's facilities to accommodate the demand of new competitors entering the local phone business. The federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 requires the company to let upstart phone companies use Bell Atlantic's network of transmission equipment to offer their own services if the newcomers do not have their own networks.

Pub Date: 6/19/96

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