Archive for Friday, October 8, 1999


October 8, 1999


What is likely to happen to Sprint-WorldCom in the uncertain year ahead?

How many times in recent years have we seen and heard it: There is a merger of various businesses and industries and the first words uttered by officials are to the effect that there will be no change of locations and no big cutbacks or alterations of the personnel structure.

Then in six months or a year, one has difficulty recognizing the entity that exists because of all the shifting and posturing.

Little wonder, then, that so many people are uncertain about what is due to happen following the announcement of plans for a record-setting $115 billion amalgamation of the Kansas City area Sprint Corp. and MCI World Com Inc. Among the most worried are, of course, employees of the agencies, particularly Kansas-based Sprint, and ancillary businesses that have been making plans to benefit from the huge "office campus" going up around 119th and Roe in neighboring Johnson County.

The new $920 million office layout has been ticketed, when completed in several years, to handle nearly 15,000 workers. Employees have been scheduled to move in about 200 at a time over weekends. Neighboring businesses, new and old, have been planning to benefit from such a population, both business and residential.

Much remains to be settled before the merger is finalized, but it is easy to see why there is concern in many corners. Will construction contracts be honored? Will workers have to move to other communities? Who might be fired or reassigned to lower-level jobs? The questions go on and on and won't all be answered for a long time.

Officials of the two companies are stressing that theirs is a growth field in which there will be a need for more rather than fewer workers. And they contend the 240-acre campus dedicated just last Friday will continue to be completed. That is designed to reassure those interested in a likely retail boom as well as the employees.

But again, how many times have such conglomerative ventures led to a drastic alteration of a lot of lives despite early promises of "no significant changes"? If the talk of continued full-scale presence and growth in Johnson County is true, the region will get a tremendous boost. Sprint long has been a good citizen with deep involvement in a wide variety of meritorious activities. The Sprint people have provided time, talent and effort as well as a large amount of money.

Yet how would an alignment with MCI WorldCom Inc. change that, and for the good or the bad?

Sprint-WorldCom has visions of becoming the nation's second largest long-distance telephone company, behind the venerable AT&T.; If that goal includes stability and growth in the Kansas City area, marvelous. If fragmentation and poor, cut-throat performance result, there is big trouble ahead.

Those familiar with Johnson County and many of the people who live and work there are hoping early promises of growth and permanence are on the money. It is no mystery, modern mergerdom being what it often is, why so many are so apprehensive at this point.

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