By CHARLES BOOTHE

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — A program called “The Intuit/Alorica Effect” will be presented Thursday night at the Bluefield Arts Center Theater to help area residents learn how to take advantage of the impact of the company moving to the city.

Diane Lupke, president of Wisconsin-based Diane Lupke & Associates, Inc., will be the speaker and bring her expertise in economic development.

Jim Spencer, Bluefield’s director of economic and community development, said it’s a matter of learning how to take full advantage of the international company and the jobs it is bringing to downtown Bluefield.

Intuit offers online products like QuickBooks, Mint and TurboTax. Alorica is providing training and supervision for employees who help online customers.

The company has a temporary headquarters in the former AAA building on Commerce Street with 65 employees already on board and another 20 ready to be trained this month and next.

Intuit/Alorica will eventually move to its permanent headquarters, called a “prosperity hub,” in the Summit Bank building on Federal Street and employ up to 500 people.

Those are big numbers for a downtown workforce, creating opportunities for existing businesses and entrepreneurs.

“Existing businesses may want to expand and be tied to services Alorica offers,” Spencer said. “Entrepreneurs may be needed to open up retail shops downtown.”

That’s where Lupke comes in, he said, providing expertise on how residents can capitalize on the “leakage” associated with services downtown workers will need.

Spencer said it’s called “chain mapping,” showing the relationship between supply of workers and demand for services.

“Our businesses need to be prepared to take advantage of this,” he said, including an uptick in the housing market. “I want to make sure we capitalize on this benefit that is coming to us.”

Spencer said Lupke has been to Bluefield before and spoke to the city board last year on economic development.

“Diane has done some work in large communities,” he said, adding that she is very well versed in how to take advantage of growth in downtown areas.

“I have known her for 15 years,” he said. “I have always been impressed with her work. She is the right person to help us with this.”

Spencer said a grant from the Blueprint Community Federal Home Loan Bank from Pittsburgh is financing Lupke’s visit.

The program is set for Thursday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and is free.

— Contact Charles Boothe at cboothe@bdtonline.com

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