181 jobs to be lost as call center closes

A manager cites the
no-call rules as a factor in the shutdown.
Thursday, January 8, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 4:30 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 4, 2008

A telemarketing center at Parkade Center will close March 1, cutting 181 jobs, according to a company official. About half of the 181 jobs are full-time positions.

Jeffrey Johnson, human resources manager at the Columbia call center operated by Americall Group Inc. — formerly Business Response Inc. — said the decision to close was related, in part, to industry fallout from no-call lists.

“A lot of what we do is inbound calls and calling existing customers of a client,” Johnson said, but added that while the no-call list affected the Columbia operation indirectly, “it affected our company’s overall workload, which partially drove the decision to close a center.”

Americall has 18 call centers worldwide, with 16 in the United States.

“We only had work for 17 call centers,” Johnson said. “We looked at the leases of all the call centers, and ours was the only lease that expired this year.”

Regional Economic Development Inc., a public-private partnership, believes that Columbia’s low unemployment rate — 1.9 percent seasonally unadjusted as of November — will help the 181 Americall employees find new jobs.

“It’s a life-changing thing for those 181 people,” said Genalee Alexander, public relations director for Regional Economic Development Inc. “We’re pretty confident that there are places in Columbia that they would succeed in.”

Johnson said that Americall is giving “anyone who’s interested” the option to transfer to another location and is assuring employees that they will be able to work until March 1.

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