Greensboro, NC -- American Express announced plans Wednesday morning to close their Greensboro call center.
Executive Vice President of World Service Jim Bush and General Manager of the Greensboro location Robert Garinger spoke at an 11:15 a.m. news conference.
Work currently handled at the Greensboro location on Airport Center Drive will be transferred to existing service center locations in Fort Lauderdale, Phoenix and Salt Lake City.
"The company's decision reflects an overall decline in service volumes as more and more routine transactions have migrated to online and mobile channels," according to a company statement.
Bush said one-in-three seats are currently empty at their Greensboro center. He went on to explain it was a business decision to not invest in real estate with empty seats and it was a better option to transfer those jobs to other buildings currently leased by the company.
He said the decision was not based on the performance of the Greensboro location. Bush said 75 percent of AmEx customers in the United States pay by some form of electronic device, limiting the need of phone service.
In all, 1,900 full-time employees work at the Greensboro facility. Garinger said a portion of the work will continue in North Carolina through home-based workers. The company estimates 400 employees will remain in North Carolina. All other employees were offered the chance to relocate to a different location. Those choosing not to relocate will be offered a severance package.
The severance package includes their standard severance, plus an additional 16 weeks pay, educational assistance, career counselors and financial specialists.
Garinger said no layoffs will happen in the next 90 days as a result of the plant closure. He said the closing will be migrated through the rest of year. No specific closing date was given.
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American Express opened their doors in Greensboro approximately 25 years ago. The center currently handles both service of accounts and credits/collections.
At their peak employment in the early to mid 90s, up to 3,800 people were employed at the call center.
According to a 2009 Guilford County Budget Proposal, American Express is the seventh largest employer in the county.
About 100 people were laid off from the American Express' Business Travel division in High Point in May 2009. Those cuts didn't impact the Card Service Center in Greensboro.
In Spring 2010, American Express announced plans to build two buildings in the eastern part of Guilford County and hire 150 workers. Pat Danahy with the Greensboro Partnership said AmEx is not receiving incentives for the new data center. The Greensboro City Council approved annexing and rezoning land for one of the buildings a few months later.
The company said Wednesday they are still committed to the new data center. Bush said employees of the call center will be able to apply for the jobs at the new data center, but said a limited population will qualify for the jobs.
American Express in Greensboro was named one of Carolina Parenting's "Family-Friendly 50" in August 2010 for excelling to help employees balance the demands of work and family life.
WFMY News 2