Officials shocked by announcement, pledge to help

Published 12:11 am Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Local government and economic development leaders said the news that Sitel planned to close its local facility came as a surprise.

Covington County Economic Development Commission President Rick Clifton said, “We are certainly disappointed to hear the news. We will be contacting the company to see if there is anything we can do to change their mind.”

Company officials identified the need for more employees as the reason they planned to close their Andalusia operation. Last May, Sitel officials announced they needed to hire 100 more employees locally, and earlier this fall, said they had been able to fill all of those jobs.

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 anniversary.”

Clifton said historical data on file about the company’s labor force showed that as many as 10 percent of the employees drove from Conecuh County to work here.

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

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

Covington County Commission Chairman Greg White said he and others will do all they can to help employees who are affected.

“I have heard rumors that Sitel may be reducing their presence in Covington County early in 2017,” White said. “However, at this point I have seen no official word from the Company. So, we will continue reaching out to Sitel officials, making every attempt to work with them as we have over the decade they have been here, and secure their 600 jobs for our community. The employees of Sitel are invaluable members of our communities, and we pray for them and their families during these days of uncertainty.

“The Commission has already had conversation with our economic development officials about the threat of job losses, and in the event these rumors materialize, we will immediately call for support from various state agencies to lessen the impact on our families, and to prepare affected employees for other opportunities.”