A large contingent of employees received one of the gloomiest notices to ever hit Minot's work force this week when Sykes Enterprises announced it would close its Minot center May 10.
According to information provided by Sykes, a total of 201 employees will be out of work when the office closes in 60 days.
"It's a major blow for those people. I'm sure it's very upsetting," said B.J. McIntyre, manager of the Minot office of Job Service North Dakota. "I don't recall anytime in the recent past that we've had a layoff like that."
Kim Fundingsland/MDN •
Sykes Enterprises is located at 2700-8th St. NW in Minot. The company announced this week that the facility will close permanently in May. More than 200 full- and part-time employees will lose their jobs.
City Hall was caught by surprise by Sykes' announcement. Minot Mayor Curt Zimbleman received a notice Tuesday regarding the closure of Sykes by UPS Overnight Delivery. The Federal WARN Act requires a 60-day notice of the closure of a business. The short notice received by Zimbleman stated: "According to the best information currently available, the call center closing is intended to be permanent, and separations will occur on May 10, 2009."
"As everyone, we were surprised," said David Waind, city manager. "They were looking for employees last summer."
During May of 2008, Sykes officials said they wanted to increase the workforce in Minot to 450 employees. The building on 8th St. Northwest will hold about 600 employees. Sykes Director of Marketing Andrea Burnett said she did not know the maximum number of employees reached at the Minot facility, but did say Sykes was aggressively trying to recruit.
"A lot of other companies are competing for the same employees," said Burnett. "We were struggling to keep up with the pace of our clients and what they are looking for."
Various companies contract with Sykes to handle technical support from the Minot call center. Ironically, Burnett says it was growth, not a downturn in the national economy, that resulted in the impending layoffs.
An official statement released by Sykes read: "Due to the changing workforce demographic in Minot, N.D., and expanding client needs, Sykes is consolidating work from its Minot location into other U.S. facilities. The changing workforce demographics and low unemployment had made it difficult to adequately staff client programs at the pace our clients require, so the decision was made to consolidate Minot operations into other U.S. centers."
Sykes is headquartered in Tampa, Fla., and operates several call centers throughout the U.S., including Bismarck. The Bismarck office will not affected by the Minot shutdown. Minot's Job Service has already begun planning for the needs of those who will be losing their jobs.
"We think we'll find room for them. We'll schedule a series of rapid responses. As part of that we'll be talking to them about training opportunities, skill upgrades and explain how unemployment works," said McIntyre. "Our goal is to help everyone who comes in the door become a better work candidate."
The Minot Magic Fund approved funds totalling more than $2.7 million for Sykes Enterprises in 1996. The amount included a $2 million grant for a building, two parcels of land approximately 600-by-600 feet and 250-by-300 feet, all local utilities provided to the site, paving, street lighting and sidewalks, the cost of development and construction fees and building permits, site preparation and a five-year property tax exemption.