By Ross Boettcher
Another major Omaha employer is displaying a strong allegiance to the city by constructing a new office campus.
By the end of August 2012, a pair of three-story office buildings totaling 208,000 square feet will be built at 180th Street and West Dodge Road. At that time, longtime Omaha employer CSG Systems, the Denver-based customer management and billing software provider, plans to move 1,100 workers — about one-third of its global workforce — from its office at North 117th Avenue into new, sustainably constructed facilities.
Like other major Omaha employers, including TD Ameritrade, CSG is turning to a multimillion-dollar construction project to show its plans to keep a long-term presence in the Midlands.
“The business continually evolves, but the commitment that we’re making out here puts us in a position to build upon what we have,” said Peter Kalan, CSG’s chief executive officer. “We’re committed to Omaha. CSG is in Omaha for the duration.”
Since 2007, CSG has added almost 100 jobs in Omaha, which includes a recent staff reduction of 26 employees that the company attributed to typical business fluctuations. In all, the company employs 1,300 in the metro area.
To support anticipated growth, CSG’s new campus has 45,000 square feet of built-in space that the company expects to use for additional expansion as its Omaha workforce grows in coming years.
The CSG project blossomed to fruition through a culmination of factors, company executives said, including a need for new facilities for an expanding Omaha workforce, affordable real estate prices and the expiration of CSG’s lease at its current office complex.
But at its root, the new campus is purely a business decision. It’s a decision based on the ebb and flow of CSG’s revenue, expenses, long-term contracts and payroll, said the company’s chief operating officer, Bret Griess, who leads CSG’s Omaha operations.
“We pride ourselves on being good business people,” Griess said. “We view this as a process and not just an event.”
CSG clients include cable giant Comcast, Dish Network and other major telecommunications firms, and the company counts Omaha as its primary employment base because its operations here employ more people than at the company’s headquarters in the Denver suburb of Englewood.
Because CSG is facing the expiration of its current lease, the company hopes to have the project finished and ready for business in about 14 months. That puts pressure on the developer, McWHINNEY of Loveland, Colo., and the Minneapolis-based general contractor, Opus Development Corp.
Officials from both companies said Wednesday during a groundbreaking ceremony at the construction site that the project will be done on budget and on time.
Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle echoed those sentiments, adding that the permitting and regulatory process was easy with CSG because the company was prepared when it came to the city with the project.
“This is an awesome undertaking,” said Suttle, who spent a career in engineering before entering politics. “It’s doable and it will get done on schedule and on time.”
When completed, the campus will have two identical buildings.
Inside, day lighting, water-efficient fixtures, energy-efficient heating and cooling systems and automated energy controls will bring sustainable elements to the campus, CSG said. Outside, there will be a courtyard and about 1,100 parking stalls.
Griess said the new offices will give CSG employees a break from the traditional “locked-in, cavernous cubicle world.”