News : El Paso Loses Promise of 699 Jobs as Pacific Union Financial Closes Mortgage Call Center
El Paso, TX, USA, July 24, 2018 -- Dallas-based Pacific Union Financial has closed its El Paso mortgage-fulfillment call center only months after being promised almost $1.4 million in city, county and state incentives in exchange for creating 699 future jobs.
The center employed about 40 people, according to a laid-off employee. No official job count was available Monday from the company or government officials.
Pacific Union officials did not immediately respond to El Paso Times requests to talk about why the center closed.
Workforce Solutions Borderplex, this area's public employment agency, received word Monday from employees that the center had closed, said Romie Ruiz, an agency spokeswoman.
"We have alerted our Workforce (employment) Centers to receive these employees and offer them services," Ruiz said in an email. "Some employees have already visited our centers."
The call center building was locked early Monday afternoon and the parking lot empty, except for one pickup truck. No one answered the company's El Paso office number Monday.
City and county officials agreed to pay the company $366,203 in tax incentives and cash grants over 10 years to get it to open the facility and create the jobs. The Texas Enterprise Fund agreed to pay $1 million for job training.
The jobs were to pay an average of $23.32 per hour, or about $48,500 per year, according to city information released in December.
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The call center was to have 699 good-paying jobs over five years, Evan Stone, Pacific Union founder and chief executive officer, reported in December when he attended a press conference in El Paso with city and county officials to announce the company's decision to open a facility here.
The jobs were to be for sales, customer service, loan analysts, loan-service officers, loan underwriters, credit analysts, and others.
Jessica Herrera, director of the city Economic and International Development Department said Monday that company officials had not yet contacted the city.
The city has not provided any payments to the company because it has not yet met requirements of the incentives agreement, Herrera said. The state also would have not paid out incentives yet, she said.
The county also has not paid out incentives, and has not yet been contacted by the company, Jose Quiñonez Jr., the county's economic development director, said Monday.
Herrera said, "It's definitely a surprise. We were building a relationship with the company, and we welcomed them to El Paso."
"Our immediate concern is the employees and that we do what we can" through Workforce Solutions and others to help them get new jobs, Herrera said.
The company's call center is at 12 Founders Blvd., in the Butterfield Industrial Park, near the El Paso airport. It previously had been an AT&T call center, which closed last November.
Employees 'surprised' by closure
A 23-year-old woman, who said she began working at the call center in February as a mortgage loan officer, said employees were notified of their layoffs at a meeting shortly after arriving to work Monday morning.
The employees were told the center was closing because the company had a "lot of hard decisions due to the (mortgage) market," she said.
She did not want to have here name published.
The company had closed two offices in California, but management officials "kept stressing to us that we were fine and (the company was) committed to El Paso," the employee said.
"A lot of us saw this coming, but not this soon," the woman said. "We were surprised."
Stone, the Pacific Union CEO, had said El Paso was picked for the center because of its skilled, bilingual workforce "thirsting for opportunities."
The company had also looked at Phoenix, Tucson, San Antonio, and Costa Mesa, Calif., for the new center, officials with the Borderplex Alliance had said. The alliance is an economic development organization based in El Paso that helped recruit Pacific Union to El Paso.
El Paso City Council agreed to provide $332,836 in tax and fee rebates and cash grants over a 10-year period if the company met job-creation requirements and invested at least $1.25 million in its El Paso facility. County Commissioners Court agreed to provide $33,367 in property tax rebates over 10 years if requirements were met.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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