Call Center News 1/26/12

 Call center failed to live up to pledge


NuComm International, a Lafayette call center that received $2 million in local and state grants without living up to its pledge to maintain a workforce of 1,000 people from 2007 to 2013, may have to close and lay off its remaining workers by the end of the month.

Here’s the question state taxpayers want answered: will the state and local entities get their money back?

Canadian-based Transcom acquired the call center and plans to lay off its 265 remaining employees on Jan. 31 if a large enough client cannot be secured by that time. That’s about a quarter of the initial goal of 1,000 employees, and the closure, though still not certain, could require the company to repay a large chunk of the $2 million in government grants.

“This is a pretty dramatic case of under-performance,” said Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret, who was not overseeing the department when the call center deal was inked five years ago with NuComm.

The call center opened in 2006 with the help of $1 million from the state’s Rapid Response economic development program and another $1 million from the Lafayette Economic Development Authority to help pay start-up expenses and lease payments for 35,000 square feet of office space in Lafayette.

The grant was made under a cooperative endeavor agreement that required the call center to hire 1,000 employees with an annual payroll of at least $14 million by August 2007 and to maintain those numbers through August 2013.

By 2009, the average number of employees was 495 — less than half the goal — and by 2010 there were still only 638 employees, according to figures from the state’s Economic Development Department.


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