A crowd of Lodi city officials and AT&T employees cheered as a blue and white ribbon was cut Thursday morning, welcoming the bigger, more high-tech Lodi store.
The store, which has been open throughout the process, has been expanding not only its physical store space, but also expanding the number of employees at the store on West Kettleman Lane.
According to Mayor Pro Tempore JoAnne Mounce, the expansion of the store, which began in June and took approximately two months, resulted in AT&T hiring six more employees.
Since the store opened in Lodi, Mounce said AT&T has brought a total of "20 invaluable jobs" to the city.
"AT&T's continual commitment and its store's expansion are vital to Lodi," she said. "Everything AT&T has done, including adding jobs, has been invaluable."
Pat Patrick, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, said another accomplishment for the Lodi store is that it services the most "small business" customers from Bakersfied all the way up northern California.
The re-opening of the store also highlighted milestone technological advances for Lodi, said Eric Herkenrath, AT&T's director of sales for the Central Valley.
Herkenrath, who began planning the expansion process seven years ago, said since then he has seen an unprecedented amount of people in Lodi changing the way they communicate with others.
From iPads to iPhones to the Garmin GTU 10 — a tracking system for pets — the store has upgraded many of its communication options for business owners as well as families to help Lodi residents stay in touch.
"Phones are not just phones anymore," he said. "Customers can do everything with their thumbs. Devices have become more of a social network and businesses in Lodi are moving toward more cutting edge technology to stay in touch. This is changing life."
Store employee Amy Tran said the newest tech option offered at the store is AT&T U-Verse, a package deal that includes advanced digital television, high speed internet and digital home phone service.
While Tran said only 30 percent of Lodi residents currently have U-Verse, Tran said she hopes that eventually every household in Lodi would possibly have the service.
"While there is no way of knowing how quickly this service will expanding, the good news is it is expanding," she said.
Contact reporter Katie Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.