NCR Corp., which has been a manufacturing employer in Columbus since 2009, said Monday that it is closing both of its Columbus plants, as well as another facility in Beijing.
More than 1,000 jobs will be lost in Columbus due to the plant closures, with about 360 of those full-time NCR employees and another 679 working at its plants through temporary staffing companies. The total is 1,039.
One Columbus plant will close in August, the company said, with the other winding down in September and shutting down completely by in October.
“While difficult, this move will help ensure that NCR maintains its position as the global leader in ATMs, self-checkout and point-of-sale devices as we accelerate our transformation,” NCR spokesman Tim Henschel said in an email statement from the company Monday. “NCR is executing a multi-year strategic initiative to strengthen our global competitive position and accelerate our transformation to a software and services-led, data-driven business.”
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NCR has a 340,000-square-foot facility in Corporate Ridge Business Park and a 100,000-square-foot facility in Muscogee Technology Park. Five years ago, it had 650 on its Columbus payroll, with Bill Nuti, its chairman and chief executive officer, saying the company would reach its pledged goal of employing more than 800 by the end of 2014.
The larger NCR plant opened inside a retrofitted Mutec battery plant in late 2009, only months after the company unveiled plans to relocate its longtime global headquarters from Dayton, Ohio, to Georgia. The firm pledged to the state that it would create 3,000 jobs in Georgia by 2013. As part of the mega-deal, Columbus snagged ATM production, with NCR committing to employ 870 workers here within the same time frame.
The smaller NCR building in the Midland area of the city opened in 2012 in a former Cessna Aircraft plant.
“The facility in Midland, Georgia, is expected to close in August,” Henschel said. “The Corporate Ridge facility will continue some operations into September and will be fully closed sometime in October. We will work with our employees, our customers and our suppliers to ensure a smooth transition during this period.”
City leaders and economic development people said they were caught off guard by the decision by Atlanta-based NCR Corp. to eliminate the Columbus plants, only learning about it Monday.
Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson said she received a verbal agreement from the company that it would abide by any claw-back provisions related to tax incentives that NCR had received from the state and the city when the deal was struck a decade ago to bring them here.
“We will be getting monies back under the agreement. ... So the citizens will be protected in that regard,” she said of the provisions and any funds that might be returned to the city, the total of which has yet to be calculated.
The mayor also said there will be a concentrated effort to place those who have lost jobs with other employers in Columbus, especially those local companies that need workers who have been trained at a high level. The Georgia Department of Labor is expected to assist with the placement effort.
“The last time we had a circumstance such as this — an employer with highly trained workers leaving — we were able to place almost all of them,” Tomlinson said.
Brian Sillitto, executive vice president of economic development at the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce, called it “bad news” for the city and the NCR employees who learned Monday that their current jobs will be vanishing. He, too, is hopeful that most of them will land with other solid companies locally.
Sillitto pointed to the training and experience that the displaced workers have gained during their tenure with the company. He also noted that the structures being closed by NCR may end up being possible carrots for other companies courted in the future for a Columbus location. He has not heard what NCR may do with the existing plants.
“We’ve got other companies that we’re working with and trying to attract them to the Columbus region,” he said. “Oftentimes, with news of layoffs comes a silver lining that now there’s an available workforce that is skilled and trained, and we can leverage that to attract new companies.”
NCR no doubt is a major company, with its website saying that its automated teller machine software, hardware and other services assist with nearly 700 million financial transactions each day. It has about 30,000 employees altogether, doing business in 180 countries.