JOHN ROBBINS/Bullet News
FORT ERIE – It’s another major blow to Fort Erie.
A call centre that had employed more than 100 people – and just a year ago had plans to expand up to 300 – is packing up shop.
U.S.-based Infocision, which opened its first Canadian location in Fort Erie in September 2011, has notified its remaining employees and Town of Fort Erie officials it’s closing.
Jim Thibert, general manager of the Fort Erie Economic Development and Tourism Corp., told Bullet News on Wednesday he received a call from a senior company official on Tuesday breaking the news.
“It’s a sad, sad thing,” said Thibert.
Founded in 1982, InfoCision specializes in inbound and outbound calls, particularly those involving political, Christian and nonprofit fundraising, as well as sales and customer care calls.
InfoCision employees roughly 4,000 people at some 35 locations in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
Thibert said Infocision’s sole Canadian customer was telecommunications giant Rogers.
The loss of the Rogers contract spelled the end of the Fort Erie operation.
Infocision had no choice but to shut down given the circumstances, said Thibert.
At its peak, the Fort Erie office employeed just over 100 people. Layoffs in recent months had reduced that number to about 65.
When the Fort Erie office was opened, Infocision officials had said they hoped to expand to 300 employees, which would have required building or renting a much larger space than the rented office space above Uncle Sam’s Bingo Hall.
“They were looking at a major standalone facility on Garrison Road,” Thibert said.
Bullet News, which learned of the closure through sources, is attempting to obtain comment from company officials.
Thibert said the loss of Infocision has nothing to do with local market conditions, but rather global economic factors.
He said the company is providing severance packages to the affected employees.
“They are certainly living up to their obligations,” said Thibert.
Fort Erie, Niagara’s fouth largest municipality, has been rocked by a series of closures and economic challenges during the past year, including the closure of the provincially owned Slots at Fort Erie Race Track, wind turbine tower manufacturer DMI, drugmaker Patheon and a the Vertis Communications printing plant.
The town is also working to strike a deal with the province to keep the Fort Erie Race Track open, but to date there’s no word forthcoming from Queen’s Park on that file.
UPDATE: Infocision chief of staff Steve Brubaker released this statement to Bullet News by email around noon Wednesday:
“Unfortunately we are unable to continue our operations in Fort Erie due to the loss of our sole client supporting the center. We do want to point out that this is in no way a reflection on Fort Erie as a community or the great people who have worked with us since our opening July 2011. InfoCision has provided all current employees with paid notice and we are working with local officials to ensure employees receive training and employment assistance during this difficult transition. We are honoring our commitments and doing what is right in this situation for the company and our employees.”