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Craig McEwen, Published December 02 2009

702 Communications lays off 15 employees

Fifteen employees of Moorhead-based 702 Communications lost their jobs Tuesday as part of a company restructuring.

The layoffs represent one-third of the 45 people who were employed by the 10-year-old company, said Brian Crommett, 702 Communications sales and service manager.

The company’s Wahpeton, N.D., retail office, which employed two people, was also closed on Tuesday. Wahpeton-area customers will now be served from Moorhead, Crommett said.

“We made a decision to refocus our business on what we did best,” Crommett said.

702 Communications, which recently acquired Internet provider GoMoorhead, will now focus on providing service to businesses, apartments and the GoMoorhead network.

“What we’re not going to be doing going forward is adding residential customers,” Crommett said. “We’re not going to do telephone or Internet for new residential customers.”

The company will continue to provide service to existing telephone and Internet customers in the Fargo-Moorhead and Wahpeton-Breckenridge, Minn., markets, he said.

“We’re still committed to serving those customers. We’re definitely not telling them that we are going to discontinue service,” Crommett said. “We’re not going to be forcing them off the network. We’re just not going to be pursuing new business in that area.”

Jim Walter, 702 Communications chief executive officer, said a combination of factors led to the restructuring, which will enable the company to deliver more advanced services and become a stronger local and regional player in the future.

For instance, 702 Communications relies on Qwest Communications to provide copper loops that deliver its services, Crommett said.

Qwest is retiring a large number of those loops, which means 702 will not be able to provide high-speed digital service to part of Fargo, he said.

“We wondered, is this part of something bigger to come?” Crommett said. “We needed to make sure that we took steps to take our future into our own hands. 702 is still a company that plans to be around for years and years to come.”

The company expects future growth under the restructuring plan, Crommett said.

“As we do, if we can add staff again we would love to,” he said. “It was definitely a difficult decision for us to let our employees go today. There will be other companies that will benefit from our loss.”

Readers can reach Forum Business Editor Craig McEwen at (701) 241-5502