When Redmond leaders announced roughly eight years ago that they landed T-Mobile’s call center and more than 300 jobs with it with a combination of tax breaks, cheap land and labor, it was an economic development coup on par with Prineville’s wooing of Facebook, or at least it seemed like it in the pre-social media age. I recall then-Governor Ted Kulongoski choppering into the Redmond airport for the ceremonial ribbing cutting.
Less than a decade later, and a sea change in the cell phone business, T-Mobile is pulling up stakes in Redmond and several other areas around the country as it seeks to regroup in the cutthroat cell phone world where it has been relegated to an also-ran in the line of U.S. carriers. Earlier this year, AT&T pulled the plug on a deal to merge the two companies after federal regulators scrutinized the deal.
In all T-Mobile is closing 7 of its 24 call centers nationwide and laying off roughly 3,300 full and part time employees, including 363 in Redmond. While T-Mobile assures that it will be hiring many of those associates back in coming months and years when it finishes “restructuring” they won’t be clocking in at Redmond. Those jobs will be added at the remaining call centers, and no doubt, at entry level wages.
Read the city of Redmond’s response here:
REDMOND OR – T Mobile USA informed city of Redmond officials today of their plan to close their Redmond based call center, in addition to several other call centers nationwide at the end of June. The T Mobile call center is one of Redmond’s top 5 largest employers, and this closure will directly impact the 363 employees currently working at the Redmond facility.
T-Mobile also informed city of Redmond officials that most of those affected will have the option to transfer to jobs at remaining call centers in other states, including Tennessee, South Carolina and Maine. T-Mobile said it will be hiring for 1,400 positions at the facilities to remain open. There will be a net loss of 1,900 positions as a result of the company-wide consolidation. Employees still working at the Redmond call center when it closes will receive career coaching, severance and two months of paid health care coverage, T-Mobile said.
“They’ve been a good corporate citizen and have provided job opportunities for many people living in our city and in the surrounding cities,” states David Brandt, Redmond City Manager. “While the closure will not directly impact the city’s general budget, the decision will be particularly difficult for many of our families, particularly those who have both the husband and wife working there.”
“While this is difficult news for the Redmond community and our hearts go out to the 363 people that work at T Mobile, EDCO and REDI have seen activity swell for new business prospects and several in this industry,” remarks Jon Stark, Manger of Redmond Economic Development Inc. “The existing turnkey facility and the current available workforce are assets to help leverage these prospects in Redmond direction.” The city of Redmond will continue to work closely REDI and EDCO to identify potential leads and to get this employment and building vacancy filled as soon as possible.
T-Mobile opened up in Redmond in 2005 due to the City’s recruitment efforts and Enterprise Zone program. “We are obviously very disappointed in learning of T-Mobile’s closure and the resulting layoffs in our community. However, we will continue to work towards providing programs and policies that are attractive to businesses and creating jobs in Redmond”, notes Redmond’s Community Development Director, Heather Richards.
“This is obviously a set-back for our community’s economic recovery, but Redmond is resilient and we will get through this,” remarked Brandt.