This center was established in 1993 by the City of Anaheim in conjunction with the Anaheim Redevelopment Agency and the South Coast Air Quality Management District. Until recently, the building was owned by URO Investments, Inc., a private executive-suites firm, which up to March 1997 operated the center under contract to the city. At that time the term of the contract elapsed, and the owner sold the building. The City of Anaheim is no longer involved in any aspect of the telecenter’s operations, and currently there is no information about the new ownership. The telecenter is, however, expected to continue operating under the new ownership.
The facility is located in the downtown Anaheim redevelopment area. It occupies the first two floors of the historic Kraemer building, a 7-story building constructed in 1924 and renovated in 1982. In 1994 the center became the first telebusiness center in Orange County. Approximately 6,700 square feet of the building has been renovated and is being used for the telecenter and other purposes at this time, and an additional 6,300 square feet is available for expansion and lease.
The center offers a total of 15 workstations; one conference room; one videoconference room with PictureTel desktop equipment; a computer room equipped with ten personal computers, one color printer, one laser printer and one bubble jet printer; and separate kitchen and lounge facilities with vending machines, a coffee maker, water cooler, and microwave. The facility also houses several private offices on the same floor as the telecenter for its non-telecommuting clients. All computers for the telecenter are networked on a local area network with remote access to clients’ offices and to the Internet, and ISDN lines have also been installed to maximize remote-link data transfer. Because the computers provided for the workstations are connected by a local area network, there are no user-designated workstations. This allows greater flexibility for users, who can determine where they work within the center, and provides an additional source of revenue by allowing non-telecommuter drop-in use. Other office equipment includes photocopy and facsimile machines. The center offers additional support services in the form of voice mail, word processing, secretarial assistance, desktop publishing, computer training, and UPS and Federal Express pickup and delivery. There is free covered parking at the site.
Support for the telecenter was provided by the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the Anaheim Redevelopment Agency and the RABO program. The owner-partnership provided additional support in on-site staff salaries including the site administrator, receptionist, and local area network manager, as well as in the original build-out costs for the telecenter. Videoconferencing equipment was donated by Office Telephone Management; PictureTel has donated the use of its equipment, and the telephone system and voice mail were donated through JPW Telecon and Active Voice, respectively. The workstations are $295 per month or $240 per month without computer. Monthly lease costs for a private office start at $295; use of the conference room is charged at $10 per hour, and videoconferencing is $10 per hour plus any toll charges. The prices for faxes, copies, printing, and secretarial assistance vary for the specific requirements. At the time of this writing, a single regular telecommuter uses the facility full-time.
Marketing strategies for the Landmark Telebusiness Center are focused on recruiting telecommuters from the community. For this reason, a home page was developed and posted to give interested parties a simple way to investigate the center’s services and prices. A direct mailing was also conducted targeting residents directly. An outside agency was hired to send out 10,000 flyers and 10,000 postcards, focusing on high potential zip codes in the Anaheim area. In general, however, the operators have found advertising in the local paper to be a more effective marketing tactic than direct mailing.
The Antelope Valley Telebusiness Center was established as a public/private partnership by the County of Los Angeles. The first telecommuter began using the center in November 1992. The need for this type of service quickly expanded after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake and a second location was established. Seventy miles or so from Los Angeles, the Antelope Valley is home to half a million people, many of whom commute long distances regularly. Currently, there are five private offices and 55 cubicles at the two locations, both of which are located in the Lancaster Business Park. The first telecenter (TBC1) at 251 East Avenue K-6 has five private offices and 15 cubicles, while the second telecenter (TBC2), located approximately one mile from the first at 321 East Avenue K-4, has forty cubicles. Prices for the use of the centers are $19 per day or $420 per month for a private office and $17 per day or $380 per month for a cubicle. These telecenters are among the few to have apparently successfully completed the transition from federal and local government funding to a client fee funding base. All operating expenses, with the exception of minor staff support provided by the county, are covered by fees collected from the telecommuters and employers who use the telecenters.
A mix of private and public organizations use the centers. A prominent health maintenance organization maintains a strong presence in the second center, securing approximately 70 percent of the 60 workstations for use by its employees. Private sector employers using the first center include a major car rental agency and two private consultants; public sector use is represented by a university, two state agencies and a local regulatory agency. At the time of this writing, the site administrator reports a total of 53 users.
The site administrator reports that the centers have been very successful in saving vehicle miles travelled. Activity reports on telecenter usage compiled by the operators calculate a savings of 1,479,705 vehicle miles travelled and 59,728 pounds of pollutants eliminated in 1996.
In 1995 the centers’ director began a laptop rental program to help support home-based telecommuters. Ten laptop computers were donated by IBM which were made available for rent to home-based telecommuters at fairly low rates. The laptops could be obtained at several local businesses and the TMA as well as at the center to make them as accessible as possible to users. This program, while initially successful, entailed a great deal of promotion, and soon proved to be more costly to administer than was economically feasible. After six months, it was discontinued.
In 1994 the Cal State Northridge campus sustained damage from the earthquake which impacted the number of classes that could be offered at the campus. An agreement was reached between the County of Los Angeles and the campus to arrange for extension courses to be held at the second center for the academic year 1995-1996. The goal was to eliminate the need for 20-40 students to commute to the campus. This service has been very successful: the first classes held in the Spring 1995 were attended by 25 students with a reported savings of 3,974 driving miles per week and a net revenue to the centers of $400 per month; in the Fall 1995 semester, 12 students attended, with reported savings of 18,530 miles, 380 hours and approximately 763 pounds of air pollutants. In 1996, students using the distance learning facilities saved an additional 763 pounds of pollutants. More importantly, it gave students the chance to take classes who might otherwise not drive to take them.
In the spring of 1996 the first center (Phase I) received an Intel videoconference system from the Southern California Telecommuting Partnership, making it possible for the center to expand its videoconferencing capabilities.
Marketing tactics for the centers have been diverse. Using a grant from the Ford Foundation, a video and brochures were produced, and several laptop computers were acquired. Other activities include advertisement on cable TV, frequent mailings, several open houses, and participation in trade shows; media coverage has resulted in feature stories on television and in the newspaper. The site administrator also pursues a particular marketing strategy which has proven to be successful, and which consists of conducting on-street in-person surveys of passers-by to elicit interest, information about the respondent’s employer, and contact information. Respondents’ employers are contacted with the goal of giving a marketing presentation and securing users. The site administrator conducts the initial surveying process several times a month, and estimates the number of successful interviews at between one and five per month.
Staffing for the centers consists of a full-time administrator who handles the daily operations and marketing of the centers, a project manager who provides general oversight, and a support staff person who collects and posts all revenue received, maintains the centers’ financial ledger, and directs the centers’ bills to the appropriate county department for payment. The center support function requires approximately 10 to 15 percent of these two employees. The site administratorâs and project manager’s time are covered by the telecenters’ revenue; the staff support position is provided as in-kind funding to the telecenters by the county. All three are employees of the County of Los Angeles.
The Bishop Paiute Telework Center opened in June of 1994 on the Paiute Reservation. The center is a business enterprise of the Bishop Paiute Development Corporation. The United States Department of Health and Human Services and the Bureau of Indian Affairs funded most of the building and start-up costs, and a private foundation supports its operation. There are currently six workstations, half of them with Internet access.
This center is fundamentally different than most of the other telecenters in this report. It is designed as a means of regional economic development, to attract business investment to the area and to provide good employment opportunities for community residents. The main function is to provide services to businesses. These services include inbound call processing, World Wide Web graphics and design packages, and other remote business support services. The operators are also planning to provide medical claims processing, which is normally outsourced to firms overseas.
The Blue Line TeleVillage celebrated its opening in March of 1996 and includes a variety of elements. Established by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the TeleVillage is the sixth telecommunications project that is under the management of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The agency has also provided support to five other projects, including the Antelope Valley Telebusiness Center, Santa Clarita Telebusiness Center, Long Beach Telebusiness Center, Pomona Telecommuting Center, and Rancho Palos Verdes Telework Center.
The purpose of the TeleVillage is to use telecommunications to help meet the needs of the predominantly black and Hispanic, largely middle-class, community of Compton. The center is located within the Compton Transit Center building, across the street from the Compton Metro Blue Line Station. Its primary focus is on reducing non-commute trips by bringing education, social services, and government transactions closer to the community through a system-wide telecommunications network. It was also planned to serve as a community resource center for local economic development through small business incubation and by increasing employment opportunities for community members through job training services and access to on-line job information. Another program to provide on-site county staff to assist customers with issues such as marriage or birth certificates or social security administration is currently in development stages. This program, called the circuit rider program, is planned to operate either by maintaining a small county office on-site, or by having an individual representative from the county be available on-site during certain times to provide assistance.
Delivery of information services is provided through a series of electronic kiosks which give up-to-date data on housing, jobs, and transit. The telecenter has a computer lab with twelve IBM Pentium 75 computers and has two dedicated telecommuting workstations. There is a Desktop Intel Proshare videoconference unit, as well as access to e-mail and the Internet. With a PacBell Education First Grant, a distance learning program with Cal State Dominguez Hills was started, and classes are now underway. Connections were originally planned to be accomplished through the use of an existing fiber-optic communication system in the rail line right-of-way. The objective was to link the site with participating government institutions, educational institutions, and other organizations. However, this alternative proved to be too costly, and the connections are instead accomplished through the use of ISDN lines. The center also provides workstation and videoconferencing equipment.
The center operator reports five teleworkers using the center currently, each averaging one day a week for an occupancy rate of approximately 50 percent. There is one attorney, and most of the others are self-employed.
The TeleVillage charges its users an annual membership fee of $10 for adults, $5 for students, $20 for families, and $50 for organizations. Seniors can use the facilities free of charge. The following organizations have also contributed to the TeleVillage: the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Federal Transit Authority, Caltrans, the City of Compton, Pacific Bell, Los Angeles County Libraries, Southern California Telecommuting Partnership, GTE, the Compton Police Department, the Los Angeles Housing Authority, the Los Angeles Museum of Science and Industry, On Target Communications, Software Creations, the Inner City Computer Society, and NFL-Youth Education Town.
The initial marketing plan targeted rail stations along the Metro Blue Line in south central Los Angeles, with emphasis placed on soliciting endowments from private donors, equipment vendors, and participating government organizations. Workshops were held at the Compton Transit Center to introduce the TeleVillage concept to the community and to allow organizers to get feedback on the project from community-based organizations. As a result, the organizers were successful in eliciting the direct involvement of neighborhood residents early in the project. An advisory board composed of the members of community organizations was formed with the intention of fostering discussion and advice on the selection of the providers of information and services, the community-based programs, and the details of day-to-day marketing and operation of the TeleVillage.
More recently, the TeleVillage has been marketed directly to the community that it serves. This includes posting flyers in different parts of Compton and Los Angeles, which brings in about 30 percent of its patrons. There are also public service announcements on local radio and cable television stations, and the center has been profiled on television news programs.
The High Desert Telebusiness Center (referred to as the Apple Valley Telebusiness Workcenter in previous status tracking reports) operates under the direction of the Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District (MDAQMD). The center was established by the Inland Empire Economic Partnership, which opened the center in October 1991 and operated it until September 1993, when the MDAQMD assumed direction. At the end of September 1996, it was moved from its original location in Apple Valley, in the high desert area of San Bernardino County, to the headquarters of the MDAQMD in Victorville.
The new High Desert Telebusiness Center has eight workstations as well as a copier, fax, and voice mail. Workstation computer equipment consists of 6 Gateway Pentium P5 120 MHz and two Intel personal computers equipped with videoconferencing capabilities. The center also offers room-sized videoconferencing capability through the PictureTel 1000 videoconferencing system. Rent is $247.44 per month for a workstation with telephone, voice mail and use of office equipment. Additional fees are charged for telephone toll charges. Currently four telecommuters are each using the center approximately 2 days per week on average. All are San Bernardino and Riverside County employees.
Staffing for the center consists of a manager who performs all marketing and operations tasks and is on-site Tuesdays through Thursdays; however, the center is available to telecommuters seven days per week.
The center has worked with the Dennis Galbraith Marketing service and used billboard advertising to target employees. The billboard advertising did not result in any placements, but was considered useful in terms of general promotion. Other activities pursued in the past have included direct mailings and flyer distributions to businesses and to residents in the community, as well as press releases. An executive plan to target employers in outlying areas “down the hill” such as San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Riverside, and Orange Counties was being considered, but for the most part, large marketing efforts for this center have been suspended. The center manager is continuing to actively market the center on a smaller scale through means such as trade shows, expos, and community-based outreach efforts.
The Highland Telebusiness Center in San Bernardino County was originally established as part of the East Highlands Ranch development, a residential development in Highland eventually planned to encompass approximately 2,800 residential units. Approval of the development plans by the city council was contingent upon inclusion of the center as part of the plans. It was operated by East Highlands Ranch, Inc., for a brief period of time, at which point operations oversight and responsibilities were turned over to the Inland Empire Economic Partnership (see “Terms and Definitions” section). It thus became one of three centers, including those in Ontario and Riverside, operated by the IEEP. Subsequently, on January 1, 1994, an agreement was reached by the city council and the Partnership to transfer management and operations responsibilities for the Highland center to the City of Highland.
Currently, there are six permanent and two temporary workstations and a conference area in the center’s 1,200 square feet of space. The center is equipped with seven 486 and two 133 MHz Pentium computers; one fax machine; an overhead projector; a television with VCR; two copiers, one portable and one standard donated by Medaphis Physicians Services; and four videoconference systems: two Intel Proshare 200 desktop systems, one PictureTel 100 desktop system, and a PictureTel 1000 room-sized system. One of the seven computers is supplied by the Inland Empire Work Exchange for the exclusive use of four San Bernardino and Riverside County employees who work at the center. The Inland Empire Work Exchange is an agency formed cooperatively by the San Bernardino and Riverside counties as a facilities exchange to reduce employee commuting. As part of this program, the Work Exchange places employees in telecenters. Remote access to clients’ main offices and to the Internet is accomplished through a local area network connected to a wide area network. Remote access is also available through phone line (internal modem). Additionally, Medaphis Physicians Services maintains two computers linked by a CSU/DSU (computer server unit/data server unit) for dedicated use by its employees.
The Highland Telebusiness Center is also joining with the state-sponsored Smart Communities program, intended to use telecommunication technologies to improve communication throughout the community, from residents to businesses to the government. The extent of the city’s participation, the location for development of access, and timeframe for participation are currently being evaluated. The Highland center is a member of the Inland Empire Telebusiness Partnership, and supports the Inland Empire Small Business Incubator through the loan of one of its Intel Proshare 200 desktop systems. The incubator was formed as a means to encourage the growth of small businesses in the region. It serves multiple needs, providing free training and consulting in the areas of general and financial management, government procurement processes, and serves as an information link for financing opportunities and for government assistance.
The Highland Telebusiness Center currently has nine participants with six active regular users. Four telecommuters use the facility almost daily; the others use the center less regularly. The rent is $100 per month for a workstation reserved for a month for a regular telecommuter. However, in reviewing fee schedules of similar centers in the region, the director determined that current fees charged by the Highland center are comparatively low. To increase the revenue base and to provide greater flexibility to the clientele, a fee schedule was developed based on amount of usage, and includes hourly, daily and weekly rates as well as the monthly rate. The center currently receives AB 2766 Subvention funds from the South Coast Air Quality Management District (see “Terms and Definitions” section) which covers the majority of operating costs. Previous sponsors have included Caltrans, Intel, PictureTel, Pacific Bell, Hewlett Packard, East Highlands Ranch, Inc., the Hon Company, Patton Sales Corporation, and Instant Print Shops.
The Highland Telebusiness Center is being marketed to telecommuters directly as well as appealing to likely businesses. Past activities have entailed radio and newspaper advertisements, telemarketing to employers, and extensive networking with other centers in the area to maximize marketing resources and coverage. Centers involved in these efforts have been the High Desert TeleBusiness Workcenter, the Telecommuting WorkCenter of Riverside County, the Pomona Telecommuting Center, and the Ontario Telebusiness Workcenter. Current activities include continuing the newspaper and regional radio advertising, both of which elicit moderate responses, and periodic advertising in a local church bulletin with distribution to 5,000 members. In addition, the center has its own Internet web site. This and a targeted direct mailing campaign have proven to be the most effective means of promotion. The direct mailing consists of three separate postcard mailings: one to selected residents in surrounding communities; one to the employers in the larger geographic region; and one to small businesses in the area. Recipients of the residential mailing are selected by income and job classification. The center’s web site has generated many inquiries regarding the center. The Highland Telebusiness Center is also a member of the Southern California Telecommuting Partnership (SCTP), which helps support the center with grant funding and promotion such as public transit postings and the inclusion of an ad for the telecenter on the SCTP web page.
This center is one of the longest lived in the state. The developer attributes this longevity to the fee schedule, which is low relative to the rest of the market; to the on-going and successful marketing of the center; and to the patronage of Medaphis Physicians Services, which maintains a strong presence in the center and acts as an anchor tenant. While heretofore the center has been largely dedicated to long-term telecommuting clients, a new fee schedule offering daily and hourly use options is being developed. Moreover, the city is planning to more strongly integrate the center into the local business community by establishing programs to foster small business growth. These plans include allowing small businesses access to videoconferencing equipment both on-site and on a loan basis off-site; and providing a point of access to the Small Business Administration’s funding information. In conjunction with these plans, a marketing strategy targeting Chambers of Commerce has also been developed and is being implemented.
All management functions for the center are conducted by a full-time manager with the assistance of an intern with a one-year term of employment. Seasonal assistance is provided by two students who perform odd jobs as necessary.
Conceived and developed by City of Long Beach, the Long Beach Telebusiness Center had its grand opening March 15, 1995. Due to budgetary constraints, the city has decided to terminate operations of the center at the end of September, 1997. Although the center reported a 97 percent occupancy rate, most of the use was by one employer, who had relocated the business’s offices to the telecenter. Little if any reduction in vehicle miles travelled was realized by the employees, a circumstance which did not fulfill the traffic congestion and emissions mitigation goals set by the main sponsoring agency. Without the participation of this major employer, occupancy would drop drastically, and despite different marketing activities, there were no other employers expressing interest in using the center. Moreover, the videoconferencing component of the center, in which the city had invested heavily in hopes of offsetting general operating costs, did not generate the expected use. Overall, it became evident that the center would not return enough profit to justify continued operations. Most of the support for the center had come from AB 2766 subvention funds and the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Association (LAMTA), with in-kind funding from the city in the way of some administrative support services. With outside funding sources dwindling, the city decided to close the center rather than using general funds to maintain its operations. As of the end of September 1997, the project is expected to break even: continued operations would run a deficit.
The facility itself is located at the juncture of Interstate Highways 710 and 405 and comprises 5,500 square feet housing ten private offices arranged around 27 open-area workstations, a large conference/classroom (equipped with video and teleconferencing equipment), a full kitchen/dining area, and a copier/fax/mail room; on-site parking is also provided. The operators offer 24 hour secured access to the building. The site is surrounded by amenities including restaurants and child care, and is adjacent to a residential neighborhood.
Until January, 1997, the Long Beach Telebusiness Center was managed by Office Technology Group, Inc./Alliance Business Centers Network. Staffing by OTI consisted of two on-site administrators who managed and marketed the center and two off-site staff members wo performed financial and general administrative duties. To conserve costs, the contract between the city and Office Technology Group was not renewed, and the City’s Department of General Services assumed operations responsibilities. As mentioned above, the center receives support chiefly from the MTA, the City of Long Beach, and user fees. Workstation charges and lease costs for private offices are based on the lease length, with workstations ranging from $300 to $450 per month and private offices ranging from $350 and $600. There are currently around 35 regular users of the facility with an average of 30 people using it every day.
The center has videoconferencing equipment and had hoped to rent use of this equipment to generate a strong revenue base, but received almost no interest in it. After the large initial capital outlay to purchase the equipment, the center managers tried to build enough of a user base for the videoconferencing component to recover costs. To do so, they targeted local businesses who might have need of the facilities, and explored the possibilities of partnering with area colleges for distance learning programs and with the local hotel industry to attract the business clientele. However, none of these plans proved fruitful.
Marketing for the center was originally targeted to large companies subject to the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s emissions regulations. As these regulations became less strict, later marketing efforts focussed on smaller companies and on employees living in the community near the center. To do this, the Long Beach Telebusiness Center employed a marketing group to assist it. Analysis conducted as part of the planning stages of the center showed that 61,810 employees commute out of the Southeast Harbor Region of Los Angeles County every day, and that eight thousand of those employees live within a one-mile radius of the center. Center marketing was thus initially planned to include the entire region, but to be primarily aimed at these employees. This was accomplished through a series of presentations to business groups, trade organizations and Chambers of Commerce, as well as to specific companies. The MTA participated by supplying additional employer contacts. Center operations and promotional activities were also coordinated with other telecommuting organizations in the region, including the local chapter of the Telecommuting Advisory Council (TAC) and the SCTP. Until recently, information on the City of Long Beach telecenter was displayed on the Web sites of both the City of Long Beach and the SCTP (at http://www.sctp.org); however, with the city’s decision to close the center, all marketing activities have been suspended.
The Los Banos Telecenter is located in downtown Los Banos, a town near Interstate 5 in the San Joaquin Valley which serves as a bedroom community for South Bay Area (e.g. San Jose) commuters. It is owned and operated by National Telecenters, Inc., a California corporation. There are three open-area workstations, eight private offices, and a conference room in the facility. The center is equipped with ISDN service and Centrex Service. Videoconferencing is available on an on-call basis, for up to 15 people at a time. The costs of the offices and workstations vary by services and space required and by the length of commitment by the individual client.
The Los Banos Telecenter is being marketed towards both employers and the general community. Five of the private offices are currently leased and there are about three telecommuters working in the center per day, on average. The telecenter reports being entirely self-supporting at the time of this writing.
Merced Community College utilizes the telecenter’s videoconferencing facilities for distance learning. The college is located approximately 40 miles from the center, resulting in substantial savings in mileage, time, and air pollution every time remote classes are held in lieu of conventional classes. The developers of the Los Banos Telecenter hope to establish contracts with other colleges in the region to conduct classes using their videoconferencing equipment.
The City of Oceanside, in conjunction with the public library, held grand opening ceremonies for a new telecenter in April 1997. Operational since February, the center is designed to be a community resource for access to computing and information technology. It thus accommodates a range of uses, including individual drop-in use for word-processing and business applications and access to various diverse types of software for resume preparation, tax preparation, and tutorials, as well as educational software for all levels from preschool to high school. Training classes on a variety of topics are also conducted on site, and have proven to be very popular: subjects extend from the Internet and home page construction to wordprocessing and resume preparation. Classes are taught by volunteers from the community. A large CD ROM library is maintained on site, and new donations from various organizations continue to add to the collection. There are separate workstation facilities for telecommuting.
The center director reports that community response has been enthusiastic. By the end of June, 2,481 users had registered, and the center had recorded 5,122 visits for various purposes in the month of June alone. The telecommuting component has been growing slowly: currently, there are five telecommuters using the center on a regular, weekly basis; several others are awaiting installation of dial-up capability for access to remote sites. Internet access is currently available.
The center is located in the civic center two blocks from the city’s public library and near a major transit hub for buses and trains. It is close to the downtown area, to restaurants, a museum, and the beach. The facility occupies approximately 3,000 square feet. Parking is free. Hours of operation are Mondays through Thursdays 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM, Fridays and Saturdays 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and Sundays 12:00 to 5:00 PM. Use of center facilities is by reservation. Non-telecommuting use is reserved in two hour blocks, telecommuting use in eight hour blocks. Users are required to sign user agreement forms. Fees are charged for printing (15 cents per page), and phone use ($2.00 per day). There are no charges for workstation use or Internet access. The center offers use of 30 computers, three of which are Macintosh; all are equipped with integrated software applications, including Microsoft Office 97 and Clarisworks, and are networked through a LAN to a laser printer and the CD ROM library. High-speed data transfer and Internet access for each workstation are provided through ISDN. Twelve of the computers are located in a training room, and there are four office cubicles with telephones for telecommuting. One workstation is handicap-equipped: it has an adaptive keyboard with an oversized monitor. A conference meeting room is also available in the civic center. In the CD ROM library, there are over 136 products including a street atlas for the United States, tax preparation software, and various tutorials. Both CD ROM and video tutorials are available for instruction in computer software applications. Other support equipment consists of typewriters, a facsimile machine, photocopier, and scanner.
Staffing is provided by a program manager who is responsible for general oversight; on-site personnel consists of two full-time supervisors and four part-time assistants who work rotating shifts. All are library employees. Seven volunteers supplement the paid staff.
Start-up funding was provided by the California Energy Commission through Petroleum Escrow Violation Account funds and by the City of Oceanside from its general funds. The center was established as a branch of the library and is a permanent program in the library’s budget. As such, funding from the city’s general account is expected to continue. Some of the software installed in the workstations and the Proxima LCD overhead projector panel were donated by other organizations. Both the center director and developer for the City of Chula Vista telecenters have been actively involved in the planning for the center.
Marketing is aimed at a variety of users. The developers have advertised at Ridelink (see “Terms and Definitions” section) meetings and have mailed information to businesses and residents, and are conducting presentations to local business associations such as chambers of commerce and the rotary club. A brochure is being developed. The center has received exposure through the local media and has been reported on in the local newspaper, cable television, and business magazine. The program’s effectiveness is being measured in several ways: through in-depth user surveys, through logs documenting number of users, hours and frequency of use, attendance in classes, and mileage saved, and through service satisfaction surveys and suggestions for improvement. Plans for the future include expanding the number of classes and volunteers, continuing to form partnerships with other organizations, and increasing capacity as necessary.
The Pomona Telebusiness Workcenter opened in March 1994. Developed by the City of Pomona with a grant from the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority, it is currently being operated and managed by the city. The facility consists of 3,200 square feet housing three open-area workstations, eight private offices, a conference room, a training room, a reception area, and a kitchen. There are ten Hewlett Packard 486 PCs and one Macintosh Quadra 650 that connect to two laser printers and a wide carriage dot matrix printer. The telecenter also has videoconferencing, utilizing PictureTel 1000 and Intel ProShare systems. The center is located near the freeway and is a short walk from a Metrolink (see “Terms and Definitions” section) stop.
Formerly, the chief external funding source was from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Since this grant ended, the telecenter has been supported from user fees and from an Air Quality Management District subvention fund. Monthly rent is $125 for the workstations and $350 to rent an office full time. There are currently six regular users from five different employers. Of these, half use the center a couple of times a week and half use it every couple of weeks.
To develop an early client base, pre-opening marketing activities were conducted which took the form of talking to commuters directly at the Metrolink station and at bus stops as well as contacting large and small businesses. Later activities included direct mailings to key personnel in companies listed on an AQMD contact list, as well as mailings to local businesses, distributing and posting flyers at transit stores and day care centers, advertising in the local newspaper and on cable television, hosting open houses targeting businesses, and promotion through utility billing inserts. Direct mailings were also used to promote the videoconferencing services to local businesses. As part of the overall business plan for the center, outreach and promotional activities are coordinated with the other Southern California centers including the High Desert Telebusiness Center and the Highland Telework Center. The Pomona center will continue marketing to businesses identified as having employees living in the Pomona Valley area. Employers will be mailed a letter of introduction followed by telephone contact and in-person presentations.
Opened in September 1993, the Roseville Telecenter was the first of four telecenters developed by the South Placer County Transportation Management Association. The other three were the Auburn Telecenter, the Citrus Heights Telecenter, and the Rocklin Telecenter, all of which closed within two years of opening. Management and operation of the Roseville center were subsequently transferred to Executive Suites Network, a private executive suites corporation headquartered in Sacramento. Current information on the status of this center was not made available for this report. The following information is from the December 1994 Status Tracking Report:
The Roseville Telecenter includes 1,662 square feet consisting of 16 workstations, a conference room, copier, fax, modem, computers, printer, phones and voice mailboxes. Amenities include dry cleaning pick-up, proximity to restaurants, day-care, banking, and close proximity to the Johnson Ranch Racquet Club. Future amenities are to include an on-site health club and restaurants.
Officially opened on March 15, 1994, the Santa Clarita Telebusiness Center continues to operate in the building it shares with the Valencia Corporate Telecommuting Center. It is located in the Industrial Association building adjacent to the TMA office and the Valencia Industrial Association office, and within walking/biking distance of residential areas. The center is a public-private partnership run by the Santa Clarita Valley Transportation Management Association with support from the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which provided a two-year grant, as well as Intel Corporation, Lockheed California Company, The Newhall Land & Farming Company, Pacific Bell, PictureTel, Southern California Edison, Microsoft, and XO Technologies. Other major contributors have been International Business Machines, which donated twenty 486
PCs, and the facility owners, Newhall Land & Farming, which donated the telecenter space rent-free for the first year, enabling the developers to offer the center rent-free to telecommuters for the first three months of use.
The Santa Clarita Telebusiness Center contains 3,500 square feet of space and has 15 open-area workstations, five private offices, fax/copy/mail services, and a videoconference room with a capacity for 40 to 50 people. The center was retro-fitted with fiber optic wiring, ISDN, and a satellite dish on the roof. This equipment comprises a Wide Area Network (WAN) connecting the center with schools, city offices, the hospital, newspapers, and other groups. In addition, the center operates a shuttle service to residences in the Santa Clarita Valley. In the past year the center has fully installed Windows 95 and built-in faxes within the computers, and has added scanners to the range of equipment offered.
The conference facilities are used by the local Economic Development Department, the local college, and by private businesses for teaching and training classes; the Valencia Industrial Association holds its meetings in these facilities as well. The conference room is reserved for these purposes almost daily and often at night and on weekends. The private offices are currently rented to five different employers. About 25 to 30 telecommuters and teleworkers use both private offices and workstations each day. Current users include an Internet provider, a general contractor, a graphic artist, a security firm, and a state senator’s office, which has established a satellite office in the telecenter.
Marketing analysis conducted prior to opening showed that 60 percent of workers in the Santa Clarita Valley commute out of the valley each day. Round-trip commute distances range from 75 to 125 miles. Moreover, Santa Clarita residents average 40 percent higher income than those in the Los Angeles region as a whole, implying that there are more white collar workers, hence more potential telecommuters, in the Santa Clarita Valley. Marketing for the center was thus planned to encompass both the regional communities surrounding the center and major employers of residents in the area. Early plans intended to increase general awareness of the center through
Marketing activities since opening have followed the early plans. Newspaper advertisements have been somewhat successful at generating inquiries and increasing awareness in the community. An intensive employer-outreach campaign was conducted in 1995 with moderate results. The primary targets of this activity were Chief Executive Officers and Employee Transportation Coordinators. Contacts were obtained from both Dunn and Bradstreet listings and a list provided by the South Coast Air Quality Management District; a brochure and folder describing the center were mailed to all companies in Los Angeles County with employees living in the telecenter’s zip code. More recent plans de-emphasize major employer outreach and are aimed at the local community, taking the form of presentations to local businesses and groups, with a continuing focus on community residents through advertisements and articles in local newspapers, and by distributing flyers.
The Santa Clarita Telebusiness Center has one full-time employee, the Executive Director, who is on-site four to six hours daily and does both administration and promotion for the telecenter. The executive director is also the director of the Santa Clarita TMA. The center retains the services of a bookkeeper who works approximately two days per month, maintaining the center’s accounts and preparing the monthly billing; an accounting service prepares all taxes. One of the tenants receives reduced rent for performing receptionist services. Technical maintenance and assistance on all videoconferencing and computer equipment is performed by a computer technician, who is paid on a quarterly basis.
This center is nearing self-sufficiency. By far the largest portion of the revenue generated comes from use of the conference facilities and office rental. As indicated above, many diverse organizations use these facilities on a frequent basis, which helps to promote the center and maintain high visibility in the community. For example, use of the facilities by the Valencia Industrial Association, an organization whose membership comprises 300 of the local businesses, helps bring new business into the center on an on-going basis. Moreover, all the private offices are filled; the center director plans to expand the number of private offices and decrease the number of cubicle workstations, since clients express a decided preference for the private offices. Currently, all operations and rental costs, with the exception of the director’s salary which is partially underwritten by the TMA, are covered by revenue accrued from conference room, office, and workstation rental charges. Expanding the number of private offices will help increase usage, and cover at least part of the director’s salary.
Among other issues facing telecenters is the need to keep pace with the continuous growth in technology. The director regards telecenters in general as natural testbeds for new technology, and recommends soliciting participation from computer firms to use telecenters for technology demonstration purposes.
Over the long range, the director views telecenters in general as an intermediary step between commuting to the normal workplace and home-based telecommuting, particularly as home-based telecommuting gains ascendancy through better data and communications links. In her view, new housing in the near future will be automatically wired for high-speed data and communications links, obviating the need for telecenters in general, which may gradually phase out.
The Siskiyou Resource and Business Center opened March 1, 1997. It was developed and is operated by the Siskiyou County Economic Development Council with funding from the Rural Development Agency through a Rural Business Enterprise grant. Furniture was donated by Pacific Telesis.
The center is located in the Siskiyou County Economic Development Council Building in downtown Yreka. It is a commercial area in a town of 7,500 people with restaurants, stores, and other businesses nearby. The center has five workstations, three equipped with Pentium 100 MHz computers with internal modems; each workstation is connected to the Internet. Peripheral support equipment includes shared printers, a copy machine and a fax machine. The center has reserved space for an additional 15 cubicles for expansion.
The center was established primarily as a means of economic development through small business incubation and by increasing employment opportunities in the region. The first is to be accomplished by providing small businesses use of space and equipment; more importantly, the center provides businesses access to the Internet and telecommunications advances. The second approach is to attract telework businesses into the region through a “turn key” operation, a program developed in cooperation with a local temporary employment agency and the Community College of the Siskiyous. In this program, employers can contract out specific job functions through the center. Employees are recruited by the temporary agency, who then becomes the employer of record, and trained to the employer’s specifications by the college. Types of job functions envisaged for this program are information management jobs, such as data entry and medical claims processing. The target market is mainly businesses, both public and private, from Sacramento down through the Bay Area.
The center also offers casual and drop-in use of space and equipment aside from the economic development component. The fee schedule for both is $5.00 per hour or $25.00 per day; longer term lease arrangements are negotiable.
The marketing plans for the Siskiyou Resource and Business Center include presentations to Sacramento and Bay area companies, Internet demonstrations for local business owners, lectures at the Community College, and widespread press coverage throughout northern California. At present, Economic Development Council personnel provide administrative support. Once a large enough commercial presence is established, the telecenter will be privatized with an on-site manager paid by fees from center customers. Plans are to expand this type of operation throughout Siskiyou County over the next decade and to develop a strong telework culture that can diversify the economy and improve area employment.
Grand opening ceremonies for the Thousand Oaks Tele-Community Center were held on April 17, 1997. This center, established by the City of Thousand Oaks, is operating as a demonstration project on the diversity of applied telecommunications technologies. As part of the project, a study on the feasibility of different telecommunications applications is being conducted. Funding for the center is mainly provided by the City of Thousand Oaks, which is underwriting all development, start-up and operations costs, and by private donations of equipment and furniture. The feasibility study is funded by Caltrans. Center operations have been contracted by the city to the Ventura County Economic Demonstration Association (VCEDA); Ecotek, a private consulting firm, is conducting the feasibility study.
As a demonstration project, the center is designed to explore applications for emerging telecommunications technologies in the areas of business incubation information, on-line delivery of government services, distance learning, videoconferencing and remote work. Sections of the facility are dedicated to separate applications: one section, for example, showcases telecommunications technologies developed by the Navy that have potential applications to business and community services. Another section is constructed to show the similarities between the normal work office environment and a home-based office, demonstrating that work can often be accomplished independent of location.
In its capacity as a technology demonstration center, the Thousand Oaks Telecommunity Center is being used for presentations on distance learning through the Consortium for Advanced and Technical Education (CATE) and as part of the Virtual University Teleconference, a state-wide teleconference comprising state universities and regional community colleges and hosted by San Diego State University. The distance learning component has been of great utility to the community. Ventura County is one of the largest counties in California without a state university. Using the distance learning facilities provided by the Tele-Community Center, CATE has delivered classes from institutions such as the University of Rochester, California State University Northridge, Southern Methodist University, and University of Southern California, thus filling an important niche for adult education and professional training.
To date, the city has provided funding for the center of about $200,000. Caltrans is providing $300,000 for the feasibility study. Donations from private sector benefactors include GTE (equipment and furnishings); ViewTek (room-size PictureTel videoconferencing unit); Compsolutions (computer hardware); Circuit City (visual equipment); The Lamp Show (furnishings); and Channel Islands Internet (no-cost Internet access). The Southern California Telecommuting Partnership also donated computer hardware.
The facility itself comprises 2,000 square feet on the second level of the Thousand Oaks Civic Plaza. This architectural award-winning civic center is a large multi-purpose complex which also houses two auditoriums, one of which is an 1,800 person-capacity theatre for performing arts; the second, a smaller theatre seating up to 400 persons, doubles as the city council chambers. The center is designed with a front-entry reception/secretarial area, two main separate areas for demonstration purposes, a section for telecommuting use, one conference room with videoconference capability, and a classroom. The first demonstration area is an exploratorium equipped with four computers. In this area, users can access information on technology developed by the Navy and on technical aspects of doing business with countries in the Pacific Rim area. The second demonstration area depicts home-based and normal office-based work environments; this room is divided in half diagonally, with one half equipped like a regular office with desk-top videoconferencing capability, the other furnished and equipped like a home-based office. There is also one large area for telecommuting use which has three cubicles/workstations and one secured, private office. There is a classroom equipped for satellite and microwave downlink as well as cable for distance learning.
At this time, marketing for the center is largely confined to group tours and software demonstrations. Response to the center has been good. Since its opening, approximately 200 visitors have come through to view the center and explore its amenites. Because the telecommuting aspect has not been emphasized, there are currently no telecommuters using the center. However, the demographic composition and commute patterns of the population indicate a good potential for telecommuting use of the center.
The community of Thousand Oaks is well-positioned to employ the full potential of smart community applications. Census data indicates a population composition with a high proportion of upper-income information workers, many of whom commute out of Thousand Oaks to work. Among the population, familiarity with computers and information technology is high: seventy-seven percent use computers daily as part of their normal work duties and a correspondingly high percentage have home computers. Median household income is $65,000 per year. Community members tend to be strongly involved with local government activities and decision-making. Thousand Oaks is also the California headquearters of GTE, a major telecommunications company. Currently, the City of Thousand Oaks is evaluating options to plan for the future of the center; however, it is clear that the center will most likely maintain its status as a community access point for emerging telecommunications technologies. How these technologies could be developed and deployed is now under consideration and the subject of the feasibility study in process.
The Santa Clarita Valley Telecommuting Center (not to be confused with the Santa Clarita Telebusiness Center), the Santa Rosa Telecenter, and the San Francisco Hoteling Center operate under the federal General Services Administration (GSA) Office of Workplace Initiatives. These centers are part of a federal program encouraging the use of distributed work systems as a means to help meet clean air requirements and mitigate traffic congestion. The federal government strongly supports telecommuting as part of this strategy, which includes both home- and center-based telecommuting and flex-time. At one time, the GSA planned to establish as many as 30 telecenters throughout the United States. Five major urban areas of California were targeted for inclusion: Fresno, the greater Los Angeles area, Sacramento, San Diego, and the San Francisco
While the federal government still strongly supports and encourages telecommuting as a work-place strategy, direct funding to establish and operate telecenters has not been made available to the California federal GSA. Consequently, the proposed expansion of the program has not been planned in any detail, nor is any such planning likely to take place in the near future. However, the federal government is aggressively pursuing the telecenter strategy in other parts of the country at this time: in addition to the three California facilities, as of January 1997 there were at least eight federal centers operating in the metropolitan Washington DC area, and at least eight others in Atlanta (4), Chicago (2), Seattle, and Oklahoma City.
Staffing for the Santa Clarita center, the San Francisco Hoteling Center, and the Santa Rosa center, consists of a Combined Administrative Services Unit comprising all federal agencies using the center. One federal employee stationed in San Francisco is responsible for general oversight of all three centers. Since this position is newly-established, duties are still being defined. There is no on-site staff at any of the three centers.
This facility is located in downtown San Francisco. It houses ten workstations and a conference room. The target clientele are reverse commuters who live in the city but work in the suburbs. The location is convenient to many hotels and will also be used by people visiting San Francisco on business who have the need for computers and other office equipment. Essentially, the facility offers these workers a field office when they are on the road, as well as giving downtown residents the opportunity to reduce their travel.
This center was opened on February 7, 1994 by the US GSA in response to the Northridge earthquake the previous month. Located ten to twenty miles from the Northridge epicenter, the primary purpose of the center was to assist federal employees as an emergency earthquake-relief service. Although the US GSA had been planning to open telecenters in Southern California as an alternative work arrangement prior to the quake, no specific time frame or plan had been set for developing the centers. The earthquake prompted a crisis intervention on the part of the government, and the center was opened within two weeks of the event.
The 5,000 square feet of the center contains 32 workstations; some of these are grouped together in private offices around an open central area that contains the rest of the workstations. There are also three conference rooms, a kitchenette, and offstreet parking. The center has 486 PCs equipped with fax/modems, DOS, Windows, and Microsoft Office. Telecommuters also have use of two HP Laserjet printers, as well as fax and copy machines.
Because this facility is dedicated to federal employee use only, marketing activities have been restricted to promotional activities internal to the federal government. These included meeting with the leaders of the federal agencies, conducting tours of the sites, and pursuing commissions and support from the Washington D.C. offices of those federal agencies. The GSA has been involved in discussions with state and local agencies about the possibility of expanding use of the center to include employees from those agencies, but so far, there has been no resolution.
The Santa Clarita Valley Telecommuting Center continues to operate under the direction of the GSA and is currently supported by the GSA and by user fees. The charges remain at around $238 per month. The workstation rental rate is derived by dividing the number of workstations, 32, into the amount of rent GSA pays for the telecenters space each month; all other operating costs are absorbed by the GSA. When first opened, the center was operating at capacity; however, when the GSA began charging for use in 1995 to offset leasing costs, only 14 of 28 regular telecommuters continued to use the site. At this time, the center is only being used by one federal agency.
The Santa Rosa Telecenter was opened in October of 1995 by the US GSA and is located in the Federal Building in downtown Santa Rosa. It is a quiet location in a commercial area near retail stores, restaurants and other services. There is convenient parking and public transportation for the center’s users. There are four cubicle workstations, each with a 486 PC and modem. The center also has a laser printer and a fax/copier machine.
At the present time there are no regular active telecommuters using the facility. One or two people use the center each week on a drop-in basis. Currently the center is only open to federal employees. The workstations cost $100 per month with the GSA covering the rest of the cost of the center.
The Newhall Land and Farming Company continues to operate the Valencia Corporate Telecommuting Center. Opened in September 1993, the center occupies approximately one-third of a 30,000 square foot facility located in the Valencia Industrial Center. The Industrial Center is adjacent to Interstate 5, one-half block north of the Magic Mountain Parkway exit; on-site and nearby amenities include restaurants, Federal Express services, and day care facilities.
For the first year of operations, the center had as many as 30 telecommuters from six different employers, most of whom had one-year use agreements with the center. As these leases expired in September 1994, the number of telecommuters decreased dramatically. At this time, Care America is the sole tenant. This major insurance health care provider has contracted with the center operator to lease workstation space for regular telecommuting use, as well as leasing a portion of the center for business recovery. The latter is an arrangement whereby 4,000 square feet of space can be used as needed by Care America on a temporary basis for special projects. For the regular telecommuters, Care America reserves ten workstations.
Because Care America reserves the greater part of the center for its use, the center operator is not actively pursuing marketing efforts. Support for the center comes from user fees and the parent company, Newhall Land and Farming. Other supporting organizations have included Pacific Bell, which provided communications equipment and wiring; CB/Langdon Rieder Corporation, which provided corporate tenant support and marketing; and COMSUL Ltd, which provided technology management and communications consulting.
Workstation space is rented unfurnished by the square foot; tenants can install private offices or cubicles as desired, and then supply whatever workstation furniture and equipment is needed. The center provides cabling for voice and data networking services, use of conference rooms, and, on request, voice-mail, ISDN, videoconferencing, furniture, and workstations. Rental costs are charged per square foot and prorated on the length of the lease: month-to-month leases are charged $1.75 per square foot per month; a lease of six to twelve months costs $1.50 per square foot per month; and a lease of twelve months or more is charged at a rate of $1.25 per square foot per month.