Published 3:25 pm Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Sitel Andalusia is closing its call center in Sanford, officials said Tuesday.

“The Sitel Andalusia facility currently has numerous empty seats,” said Shirley Loebsack, spokesperson for the company. “This smaller market has been difficult to attract new clients and to continue to attract new associates. Sitel has therefore made a business decision to close the site.”

Loebsack said that Sitel leadership began communications with associates this week to notify them that the site is currently expected to deliver the last call for all clients no later than April 1, 2017.

“This is anticipated as the last day of work for some associates, but again this is subject to change,” she said. “Sitel will provide an official WARN letter to each associate and to the State of Alabama as required by law. Additional details will be provided at the time and in that letter. This is expected to take place in January 2017.”

Loebsack said that all current associates are able to apply for other positions within the company, including work at home opportunities.

“Sitel leadership also intends to partner with local resources and other area employers to identify potential employment opportunities for impacted associates,” she said. This has been a very difficult decision with the 15 years of service that has been provided to this community by out Sitel associates. While events such as this are never easy, Sitel Andalusia leadership is working to provide as much open and proactive communication as possible to ensure the most efficient transition for clients, associates and the community.”

Covington County Economic Development Commission President Rick Clifton said the news of the call center’s closure came as a surprise.

“We are certainly disappointed to hear the news,” he said. “We will be contacting the company to see if there is anything we can do to change their mind.”

Clifton said he had not been notified that the company was having trouble attracting employees.

“We wish they would have come to any of us community leaders to help establish a good workforce,” he said. “If there is anything we can do to change their mind about their decision, we will certainly try. We are as shocked as everyone, especially after we recently celebrated their 10-year anniversary.”

Sanford Mayor Chris Thomasson said today was the first he had heard of the closing.

“They’ve supplied the county with a bunch of jobs,” he said.

The building, which is located near the airport is owned by the company.