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Grand Forks Herald, Published April 01 2010

PRACS employees told layoffs expected soon

Dozens of employees of PRACS Institute, the medical research company with clinical testing and laboratories in East Grand Forks, Minn., and Fargo, were told Wednesday they soon would be laid off.

That didn’t sit well with the founder of PRACS, Dr. James Carlson, who sat in J.T. Cigarro’s in Fargo commiserating with employees there, he said.

PRACS was formed by Carlson in 1983 in Fargo. Several years ago it became part of Cetero Research in North Carolina in a merger of several similar firms. Carlson said he sold PRACS three years ago to KRG, a Denver investment firm, after requiring that KRG also buy two of PRACS’ main competitors.

“I’m very strongly committed to my staff,” he said Wednesday. “So I’m disappointed. … I’m a shareholder and a board member of Cetero and I have not been informed by anyone in management or the holding company of any of this.”

Mike Hellman, a manager at the East Grand Forks office, said he could not comment on the layoffs, referring questions about it to Cetero’s North Carolina office.

Hellman said 35 people work full time in the 250-bed East Grand Forks facility, while 60 to 80 work part time.

The Fargo PRACS has more than 600 beds and dozens of employees, but Carlson’s not certain yet how many have been given pink slips.

It appears not all the operations in Fargo will be closed, Carlson said.