Business

Center Partners layoffs on hold, expansion planned

Call center operator Center Partners has reversed course and now plans to cancel major layoffs and instead add up to 500 jobs at its Liberty Lake office and three Kootenai County operations.

Earlier this year, the Colorado-based company said it would lay off most of its 572 workers in Liberty Lake.

“This is a good ending for a story that started out kind of cruddy,” said Tepi Hanson, the company’s human resources director.

The change follows “internal restructuring” and business growth by some clients. The company’s Inland Northwest call centers primarily serve U.S. telecommunications or wireless providers.

Center Partners’ Liberty Lake building is the former Telect Inc. headquarters. After the July announcement, the headcount in that office declined to below 500, Hanson said. Some workers left the company, while others relocated to its North Idaho operations.

The North Idaho sites - in Coeur d’Alene, Hayden and Post Falls - together employ around 900 people, Hanson said, with the largest being in Coeur d’Alene.

Hiring for the new positions will continue through the end of 2013, she said.

The summer layoff announcement occurred as company officials considered downsizing operations. The company was uncertain how large the job cuts would be, but decided to send out a job-reduction notification. “We wanted to do that so that our Liberty Lake workers were aware their jobs might not continue,” Hanson said.

That plan changed as major customers decided to expand their businesses, Hanson said.

Most of the new jobs will be filled in North Idaho and will be full-time positions with benefits.

Most of the jobs in Liberty Lake will pay nearly $9.50 per hour; the Idaho jobs will pay more than $9 per hour, reflecting Idaho’s lower minimum wage, Hanson said.

Some management jobs in Liberty Lake will likely not be saved, she said. “We’re trying to relocate them or offer them jobs as agents,” Hanson said.

Center Partners lists all new jobs at www.centerpartnersjobs.com.

Nationwide the company employs more than 3,000 workers.



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