Windstream is aware of its reputation in Newton and its lack of customer service, but a representative of the company on May 16 told city council members it is trying to address those issues by expanding its underground fiber optic network and offering about 100 jobs in its upcoming retail and customer service center.
Logan Shine, vice-president of state government affairs at Windstream, said the company will be developing its already existing physical office space location in Newton, which is located in the southeast corner of the intersection between South Second Avenue West and West Second Street South.
“We’ll roughly have about 100 people coming into that location,” Shine said during the city council meeting.. “So if you know people who are looking for work, send them our way. We would love to fill those spots. As I’m sure you hear, it’s tough to find people right now.”
Council member Vicki Wade asked if the jobs will be new positions. Shine said a lot of them are current positions that the company is trying to bring back into the office. Shine clarified there about 100 various open positions at the retail center. Six addition positions will come with the customer service center.
“We’re also looking for a construction engineer, project manager,” Shine said. “We have a whole host of positions all across the state that we’re trying to fill.”
Windstream expects to open its new retail center in August. The main purpose of the new offices, Shine added, is to be an “outreach center” to the community. If anyone has a question about service or are searching for a job, Shine suggested the retail center will be open to the public to get those answers.
“It’s no secret. We may have been lacking in customer service in the past. We heard those complaints,” Shine said. “I’ve been here about a year. And I can tell you my meetings with county supervisors and city officials have steadily gotten better. And we’re starting to turn around our reputation.”
In addition to the updates, city council approved a telecommunications licensing agreement with Windstream Iowa Telecommunications, LCC, to extend its fiber optic network. Shine said about 60 miles of fiber is being laid, 90 percent of which will be buried underground.
City staff reviewed the route, which includes 91,036 lineal feet in the city right-of-way, and will be working with Windstream and their installation contractor to eliminate conflicts with existing utilities and other possible future improvements. The licensing fee for Windstream is more than $5,740.
Some areas of town are already built out with fiber to homes, Shine noted. According documents included in the city council agenda, Windstream wants to install much of its underground fiber near the outskirts of the the city limits; all the while hoping to improve its rapport in the community.
“We want to really establish ourselves – or, I should say, re-establish ourselves – in Newton,” Shine said.