Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

AmeriCredit Closes Clay Call Center; 225 Employees out of Work as of Today

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

AmeriCredit Closes Clay Call Center; 225 Employees out of Work as of Today

Article excerpt

Byline: TIMOTHY J. GIBBONS, The Times-Union

Auto finance company AmeriCredit shuttered its Clay County call center Thursday, telling the 225 employees at the center that they'd be out of work as of today.

The closure comes on the heels of Household International's announcement Tuesday that it would shut down its Jacksonville call center, which also handles collections, putting 119 people out of work.

AmeriCredit's 85,000-square-foot center opened on Fleming Island in December 2001, wooed there by the county's offer of one of the first incentive packages in Clay County.

After a period of growth, though, the Fort Worth, Texas-based company ran into financial trouble about a year ago and responded by shedding sales staff and reducing the size of its loan portfolio.

Over the past year, AmeriCredit has cut the amount of loans it makes from $2 billion a quarter to around $750 million, company officials said. Its portfolio has dropped from $16 billion to $13 billion.

Less loans means less collections, company spokesman John Hoffmann said, and therefore less of a need for collectors. By shutting down the Jacksonville operation, collection work could be concentrated at centers in Arlington, Texas; Charlotte, N.C.; Phoenix, Ariz.; and Petersborough, Ontario.

"It came down to the numbers," Hoffmann said. "If we had left all five buildings open, not only would we have too many collectors, but we'd have far too much capacity for future need."

Employees will receive a minimum of 60 days severance pay plus outplacement assistance and a stipend to cover insurance.

Other than the Canadian site, Hoffman said, the company has no overseas operations.

The news came as a shock to Clay County Commission Chairwoman Christy Fitzgerald, who said AmeriCredit had given the county no indication of its plans. …

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