Senator Chuck Schumer made an appearance at Coast Professional, Inc. in Geneseo on Tuesday afternoon, announcing an expansion that will nearly double the size of the student loan debt company.
More than 200 jobs will allow Coast to bounce back after its pending 5-year contract with the Department of Education was terminated in February 2015. The Department cited that Coast and other student loan contractors had high rates of performance violations.
Coast had to downsize and subsequently laid off staff members. Schumer’s team then stepped in and advocated for the company, asking the agency to let Coast defend its work, take corrective action if necessary, and keep the upcoming 5-year contract.
“Throughout the spring and summer, I was hammering the Department of Education. And we won. They admitted that you do a great job. They admitted that your job is necessary,” Schumer told a room full of Coast employees.
Ground has already been broken on the expansion and the work is expected to be complete in April 2017. Schumer said the extra 15,000 square feet will provide space for the additional workers it will hire.
The Senator also said this is great news for the regional economy and students who are having trouble paying back their loans.
“What you’re doing is really important. Your long hours on the phone help people straighten out their lives. So that’s why when this happened I went to bat doubly hard,” said Schumer.
Schumer said that he was "furious" when Verizon abruptly announced the closing of its Henrietta call center and didn't attempt to save some jobs.
"I had a talk with the CEO. Told him I was angry. He said he would look into it," said Schumer.
Meanwhile, Roxanne Baker, president of Coast Professional, Inc., expressed her gratitude for the new contract.
“It is so important the we look to our elected officials and ask what can they do for us when the going gets tough. I hope today you go to work and know that you saved all these jobs, because without you it wouldn’t have happened,” Baker told the Senator.
Last year, 6.5 million Americans defaulted on their student loans—a rate that has tripled since 2003.