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Worldcom Fallout Spreads

Donnelly’s Printing has been operating out of Vienna since 1977. But the business has never lost a client as large as Worldcom.

Before filing for bankruptcy, the telecommunications giant generated a steady flow of work, about $8,000 a month, for the printing company. Donnelly’s Printing created marketing materials and a monthly newsletter for the section of Worldcom that handled government contracts. Jeff Donnelly, co-owner of the printing company, said Worldcom had been a client for around five years and had been the company’s third or fourth best source of income from year to year.

“It’s definitely going to affect business,” Donnelly said. “It’s not something that will put me out of business. But, it’s definitely not helping.”

Even so, Donnelly does not feel any ill will toward Worldcom. The company’s downfall is being blamed on two former executives -- chief financial officer Scott Sullivan and controller David Myers -- who allegedly manipulated the corporation’s finances. Donnelly now feels sorry for the Worldcom employees with whom he worked, several of whom attended Donnelly Printing’s Christmas parties.

“They’re really good people, really good clients,” Donnelly said. “I feel sorry for the people I’ve dealt with. They might not have jobs.”

EMPLOYEES HAVE told Donnelly Worldcom may rebound, but that it will be at least six to eight months before the printer sees any more business. Donnelly is not holding his breath, though, and plans to try and replace the lost revenue.

“We may not get as big a customer as them, but we’ll probably try to pick up two or three smaller clients,” Donnelly said.

Gary Powers, president of the Vienna-Tysons Chamber of Commerce, said he hasn’t heard any reports of lost Worldcom business from chamber members.

“We haven’t really heard one way or another,” Powers said.

He said he did have personal friends who are employees of Worldcom.

Randy Collins, president of the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce, said he has also heard from several individuals laid off by Worldcom. There have been 500 layoffs there so far, but 3,500 employees are still working at the Loudoun campus.

"I've heard from very few business people in Loudoun or in the region as a whole," Collins said. "The impact to the economy will be there, but it will be more from layoffs than from decreased business."

Collins said the Loudoun Chamber is willing to help any Worldcom employees who have been laid off and are looking for work. The chamber has given advice to former Worldcom employees who are thinking of starting their own businesses, and has put former employees in touch with local executive search firms. Collins was at a recent job fair, and talked with many recent Worldcom layoffs.

"SOME PEOPLE have no idea what they are going to do," Collins said.

The chamber president is hoping Worldcom will reorganize, and that the Loudoun office will make a successful comeback.

"The reason we're optimistic is that the Loudoun campus houses the network operations center," Collins said. "It's a critical link to a lot of Internet services. A lot of businesses are depending on that Internet service. It's not a situation where they can just turn off the lights and shut the building down."