A Canada-based telecommunications company has announced it will close its Anniston call center on Sept. 30, less than a year after it opened.
In a Wednesday email to The Star, Gail Strickland, vice president of Viiz Communications, wrote that the company would close the center at the end of the month.
“This was a difficult business decision and not one that was taken lightly by the Viiz executive team,” Strickland wrote. “Changing industry dynamics as well as well as Viiz’s overall company strategy and focus, made the center in Anniston no longer sustainable.”
The call center, on Hillyer Robinson Industrial Parkway in Anniston, opened in November with around 75 employees and a plan to hire up to 150 people.
“Viiz would like to recognize all our employees in Anniston for their hard work and dedication,” Strickland wrote. “We have no further comment at this time.”
Don Hopper, executive director of the Calhoun County Economic Development Council, said he’d been told on Wednesday by a real estate developer for the project that the call center would close.
“I’ve tried to get in touch with management there but haven’t been able to reach them,” Hopper said of Viiz. “I don’t know what the decision process was.”
Around 20 people could be seen answering calls in cubicles at the Anniston office on Wednesday afternoon.
Viiz operates call centers in Canada, Utah, the Philippines and El Salvador, and handles call center services for large telecommunications companies, including AT&T, Comcast, Level 3 and Earthlink.
Viiz opened the call center to great fanfare in November with promises of bringing many more jobs to Anniston. The Anniston City Council voted to abate the call center’s non-educational state and local taxes for 10 years to help it grow, Hopper said.
Viiz hired 75 call center workers soon after opening the Anniston center. Viiz officials at the time said that after reaching 150 employees in 2018, the company would look to meet the center’s 300-worker capacity as business expanded.
Hopper, prior to official confirmation from the company that it would close, said he was disappointed that Anniston could lose the call center.
“I’m convinced a call center has a good niche in this market,” he said.
Hopper said any loss of jobs is undesirable and that he would talk with state economic developers to find ways to possibly keep the center open.
“Any loss of jobs, we take it personally because it’s not just numbers, it’s families being affected,” he said.