Fort Collins CO, USA, Sept, 2019 -- Two years after opening a call center on the former Hewlett Packard campus in southeast Fort Collins, Comcast is closing the customer service center on Dec. 14.
The move could leave an unknown number of the center's 237 workers without jobs and comes on the heels of the late-August launch of Connexion, the city's own broadband service.
Leslie Oliver, director of media and external communications for Comcast's Mountain West Region, said the move has nothing to do with the city's broadband and everything to do with evolving and staying relevant while meeting customers' needs.
Most employees in Fort Collins will be eligible to work from home or apply for other jobs in Colorado or across the company, she said. Comcast has asked employees to notify them by Sept. 21 if they want to work remotely so the company can "transition them to our work-from-home program," Oliver said.
"Our experience and research shows these programs can lead to higher levels of employee satisfaction, more flexibility for our employees and strong productivity," she said. "That in turn can translate into a better experience for customers."
She said the move may open the door to other prospective employees who may not have been able to commute to Fort Collins.
Comcast's lease with building owner McWhinney of Loveland does not expire until 2027, but the company will vacate the premises by mid-December, Oliver said.
Fort Collins City Manager Darin Atteberry and Economic Health Director Josh Birks were unaware of Comcast's plans on Wednesday morning. The city has not yet responded to a request for comment.
Oliver said Comcast had been trying to reach city and county officials, including Atteberry, Mayor Wade Troxell, council member Ken Summers and county commissioner Steve Johnson since Tuesday and had not heard back.
It also gave a heads up to the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce.
"It sounds like they company has been experimenting with models around the country to figure out how to keep customer service high at a time when it's hard to find enough employees," said Chamber President and CEO David May. "We're having similar discussions with other companies almost every day."
May said he does not believe the change is connected to the rollout of government broadband. "It's just coincidental," he said.
Comcast employs 350 Fort Collins residents as part of the company's 9,000-member statewide workforce.
The company is adapting to changing workplace dynamics, Oliver said. "I think it will help the workforce in Northern Colorado. Some people may have the opportunity to work for us because they can work virtually."
The call center's closure will also leave a large vacancy in what's commonly known as the HP campus.
Comcast announced in 2016 amid great fanfare it was bringing a customer care center and more than 600 new jobs to Fort Collins. The jobs, which never ramped up to the degree Comcast believed they would, were tied to incentives pledged to Comcast from the state's Office of Economic Development and Trade.
Comcast won't receive any of that incentive package, as it never met required benchmarks for the Fort Collins center.
Comcast expected to employ more than 600 people in Fort Collins by summer 2018. Today, it employs 237, said Oliver, who didn't immediately know the center's peak employment number in Fort Collins.
New hires started out earning $13.75 per hour or more, depending on experience, plus benefits including a discount on cable and WiFi service, Comcast officials said in 2017 during a facility tour for local reporters, city and county officials.
The company's renovation and interior design of the 82,000 square feet was a testament to a modern workplace, with sit/stand desks at every station, ample coffee bars throughout the two-story space, a cafeteria, a fitness center, ample natural light, and comfy couches and chairs to kick back in and consult with colleagues.
This developing story will be updated as more information becomes available.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
Comcast Corporation, founded in 1963, is a cable operator in the United States, providing cable television, broadband Internet, and telephone service to both residential and commercial customers. Comcast is headquartered in the One Comcast Center in Center City, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Published: Monday, September 16, 2019
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