*Chapters Use Show to Recruit Members

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ORLANDO, FL -- Leaders of the American Teleservices Association's fledgling regional chapters were busy at the organization's convention here yesterday trying to recruit new membership.

The ATA took on a decentralized look in June when it reinstituted local chapters which had been disbanded in 1997 under the association's previous management. The organization's three local chapters include the New York Metro chapter; the Southeastern chapter, SCATA, which represents North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida; and the Ohio chapter.

SCATA President Rob Panepinto said his chapter gained seven new members during the first two days of the show. SCATA had nearly 200 members before disbanding, Panepinto said. The recently reconstituted chapter's membership consists only of its board of directors -- about 10 people.

The New York group will emulate the Ohio chapter, currently the ATA's largest with about 50 members, and will organize trips to call centers at chapter meetings. New York Metro chapter President Joel Linchitz said the New York chapter membership will tour a Web-enabled call center at its next gathering in December.

Efforts are under way to organize ATA chapters in northern California and the Nebraska-Kansas region, said Bill Miklas, communications director for the ATA board of directors. Chapters may be formed in Illinois and Virginia, said Gordon McKenna, president of the ATA.

Most of the ATA's future efforts, including attempts to influence legislation, will be launched through the chapters, Miklas said.

"Our outlook on it has been to allow the chapters to define themselves," Miklas said. "The local leaders will know what's convenient for them."

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