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Call centre cuts hurt Brantford

Posted on Aug 11 2009
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Call centre NCO is cutting employees as part of a downsizing, only six months after leaving the downtown for a new office in a business park in the city's northwest. 
Company officials were unavailable for comment about the prospect of the looming job cuts. 
But John Frabotta, director of economic development and tourism, confirmed that the company acknowledged to city hall it is downsizing from about 650 staff at its new Sinclair Boulevard office, but is not closing its doors. 
Frabotta couldn't say how many jobs may be cut. 
All inquiries are referred to NCO's corporate headquarters in Horsham, Pa. The head office is traditionally tight-lipped about its operations. 
"It doesn't surprise me," Frabotta said of the impending action. 
"They're no different than other businesses that are affected by the general downturn in the economy that's going on right now." 
Mayor Mike Hancock called the news another "unfortunate" economic blow for the city. 
"According to the latest figures, Brantford's unemployment rate is just over 12%," he said. 
"More job losses are just going to make the situation worse." 
Hancock said NCO has been a valued corporate citizen and one of the city's largest employers. Still, he lamented that the news also comes as the economic development department is working to attract more call centre business. 
Brantford has been well served by call centres and has the ability to entice more, he said. 
After years in Market Square, NCO decided a year ago to relocate to Sinclair Boulevard. Although a blow to the downtown, the announcement the company was staying in the city came as a sense of relief at the time because NCO had looked at locations outside of Brantford. 
The number of employees at NCO has fluctuated over the years. The Brantford operation began as a small call centre called FCA, which moved into the downtown mall's third floor. Then, at the beginning of 1999, RMH announced it would bring 500 jobs. 
The next year, RMH expanded to about 1,100 workers and FCA became NCO. Three years later, NCO bought out RMH, creating one call centre with about 1,800 employees. 
The loss of some contracts and the recession lowered the total number of employees to 650. 
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