Destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina played a major part in a decision by vacuum maker Oreck Corp. to close a call center on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and move jobs to other parts of the country, says the company's president and chief executive officer.
About 100 jobs will be lost when the Long Beach, MS, U.S. facility closes in 60 days, Tom Oreck said. He said the Mississippi call center employees will be offered other jobs within the company.
Oreck said the company's Long Beach facilities were "within half a dozen blocks of the worst devastation" of Katrina, which blew ashore last Aug. 29. The Oreck plant in Long Beach reopened within two weeks of the storm, putting about 500 people back to work.
He said that by spreading call center jobs to several states, the company is trying to mitigate the risk it would face in a single event, such as a hurricane.
He said 25-30 call center jobs will move to Cookeville, Tenn., where Oreck is opening a manufacturing plant in September. The other jobs will go to third-party contractors in Denver and Phoenix, he said. The call centers handle customer questions.
"The main thing is we are staying committed to the U.S. work force," Oreck said from New Orleans, where the company is headquartered.
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