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State Farm workers to tour Columbia

Insurer plans to transfer up to 300 jobs here from Monroe, La.
Friday, March 19, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 2:25 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Columbia will play host this weekend to more than 80 employees from the State Farm operations center in Monroe, La. The company-sponsored trip is designed to show the city to employees who are considering relocating.

Up to 300 Monroe employees could transfer to Columbia

The visit comes about six weeks after State Farm announced it would close its Monroe facility and transfer as many as 300 jobs to its offices in Columbia. State Farm also plans to move another 200 jobs from Monroe to Tulsa, Okla.

“We want them to get a good idea of what Columbia has to offer,” said Gary Stephenson, State Farm spokesman.

Stephenson said the relocation of Monroe employees is in the preliminary stage. But the company wants employees to have enough time to gather information about the city and to consider their options. He said that meeting fellow State Farm employees, talking with city leaders and seeing the city will help employees make better decisions.

Participants will spend busy day getting to know Columbia

Hugh Curran, public affairs specialist for State Farm in Columbia, said the itinerary for the weekend includes a welcome lunch today at Peachtree Center, 120 E. Nifong; a presentation by the Chamber of Commerce; and a tour of the Columbia State Farm building.

Curran said a few guests also will arrive from other states in the company’s central zone, which encompasses Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas and Louisiana. He said many of them have been to the Columbia office in the past, but some will be seeing the city for the first time.

Stephenson said these potential Columbians will be a mix of support-level employees and upper-level managers.

“Columbia will be an auto-insurance hub,” he said. “So this will be primarily auto-claims employees.”

Future of job distribution still unknown, says Stephenson

Stephenson said it was too early in the decision process to know the distribution of the new jobs between present Columbians versus transfer employees.

“We want to be able to keep as much experience in State Farm as possible,” he said. “But this is not a guarantee for them either.”

Stephenson said the purpose of the trip is “orientation” and that any job offers would come later. He could not confirm an exact number of new jobs the consolidation would offer Columbia, but that it was a range between 200 and 300.

Another group of about 100 will visit Columbia the weekend of March 26 through 28, Curran said.


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