A Columbus company that handles bill remittance processing for clients is poised to lay off 83 employees, according to a notice it has submitted to the Georgia Department of Economic Development.
First Data Remitco, which does business at 1 Remitco Way inside Corporate Ridge Business Park just off Macon Road, is scheduled to begin laying off workers starting March 31, according the department’s Workforce Division.
The company is operated by major credit-card processing firm First Data Corp., which is headquartered in Atlanta but has locations throughout the U.S. First Data is a prime competitor for Columbus-based TSYS, which is headquartered in the city’s downtown area.
“WorkSource Lower Chattahoochee, the local workforce development area that serves that region, has been working closely with the program director at First Data,” Shemeeka Johnson, senior communications specialist with the state department’s Workforce Division, said Thursday via email. “They are in communication at this time to develop a plan of action related to this layoff event.”
Often during large layoffs by companies, the state will dispatch what is known as a “Rapid Response Team” to assist with employees being let go from their jobs. That can include providing basic information, helping with a job search and educational opportunities, and general career counseling which includes informing displaced staffers that they are eligible for unemployment benefits.
“We do know that WorkSource Georgia will be working with them and our other workforce partners, like the Georgia Department of Labor, to try to connect those workers that are affected with new employment opportunities or additional training resources,” said Brian Sillitto, executive vice president with the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce.
“If they need some additional training, that’s what WorkSource Georgia does,” he said. “They have federal funds that those displaced workers can (use to) go to Columbus Tech and get some freshening up of skills so that they’ll be more eligible for new employment opportunities in the future.”
Sillitto pointed to call-center operator Convergys, which operates a facility on Victory Drive, as a possible employment option for the First Data Remitco workers being laid off. He also said Hamilton Relay, which plans to open a telephone captioning center in Columbus this year, creating between 50 and 100 jobs, as another possibility for those facing layoffs.
The job losses come with the Columbus metro unemployment rate at 5.1 percent in December. The Georgia Department of Labor has yet to report the rate for January. The metro area jobless figure compares to 4.4 percent for the state as a whole.
It was in 1999 when Columbus landed Remittance Management Corp, or Remitco, as an employer in Corporate Ridge Business Park, with the company pledging to invest $10 million into its office space in the city and create 350 jobs within three years.
Remitco then was bought out in 2000 by Colorado-based Integrated Payment Systems Inc., a subsidiary of First Data. Remitco employed 35 at the time, but during an expansion in 2005, the Ledger-Enquirer reported the company was up to 250 workers.
The First Data Remitco office in Columbus declined Thursday to comment on the layoffs, and the First Data corporate media relations office did not respond to a media site request for more details about the layoffs, the local operation and its current workforce total.