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Eveleth telemarketing company closes, 104 jobs lost

St. Cloud-based Meyer Teleservices has gone out of business, leaving offices in Eveleth, Little Falls and St. Cloud closed.

 Some 104 jobs were lost at the Eveleth facility alone, with 20 in St. Cloud and 74 in Little Falls.

 Gary Owen, the company’s owner and chief financial officer, made the announcement to employees Tuesday afternoon.

Owen described the closure as a dissolution, saying the company was insolvent. He told the News Tribune Wednesday that “the company has filed with the Secretary of State dissolution documents effective’’ March 31, 2014.

Workers were told there was no money for this week’s paycheck, and that no severance would be paid.

 In addition to workers being out money, the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board is out about $250,000, the unpaid balance on two loans totaling $650,000. Sheryl Kochevar, IRRRB spokeswoman, told the News Tribune that telecommunications equipment at the Eveleth office is collateral for the IRRRB loan.

The company was founded in St. Cloud in 1977; opened its Little Falls office in 1999; and then launched on the Range in Eveleth in 2007. Kochevar said Meyer had projected to employ a minimum of 70 employees by 2008 and 135 employees by 2010.

According to the company’s website, its primary function was telemarketing to raise money and group memberships, including for political causes and candidates. But telemarketing has gone through tough times with fewer land lines and many Americans tied only to their mobile phones, which are harder or even illegal for telemarketing firms to target.

“In addition the Do Not Call Legislation, the transfer of customer service jobs to overseas phone centers, and the explosion in cell phones have had a dramatic impact on the telemarketing business over the past five years,’’ Owen told the News Tribune.

Larry Meyer, the company’s founder, developed an innovative state political party, small donor fundraising program called the Dollars for Democrats program that went on to raise tens of millions of dollars for Democrats in all states, the website noted.