Franklin Countys First News

State, local agencies discuss strategy following Barclaycard announcement

The Wilton Board of Selectpersons.

WILTON - State and local officials gathered at the town office Wednesday evening in the first stage of a united response to yesterday's news that Barclaycard will be leaving town in March.

Approximately 20 people attended the meeting, representing state agencies such as the Department of Labor and Department of Economic and Community Development and local organizations like Western Maine Community Action and Greater Franklin Development Council. Local members of the legislature were in attendance, and representatives from the state's congressional delegation joined the meeting via teleconference, as did Acting DOL Commissioner Laura Fortman. A number of employees of Barclaycard also attended the meeting. The Board of Selectpersons as well as County Commissioner Terry Brann were also in attendance.

"We are a resilient and caring community," Selectboard Chair Tiffany Maiuri said, "and it shows on a snowy night that so many people are here or wanted to be here."

Local and state officials had expressed universal disappointment Tuesday, after receiving word that the Barclaycard Services Operation Center would close down operations at the end of March. The closure of the customer service facility, which opened in 2008, is anticipated to impact 227 people.

Selectperson Tom Saviello said that town officials had spent much of the previous two days speaking with a range of local, state and federal officials about the next steps to assist the employees. The town would take the lead on the issue, Saviello said, and the board moved unanimously to make Town Manager Rhonda Irish the point of contact for the various agencies and their efforts moving forward.

Much of the initial support will take the form of the DOL rapid response team. Judy Pelletier, who coordinates the team for the DOL, said that she had already been meeting with Barclaycard employees regarding their needs and concerns. One often-expressed concern among employees, for example, is where to acquire health insurance after March. Pelletier said that the rapid response team could bring in experts on finding affordable care.

"We have a variety of options that we can help folks with," Pelletier said.

A transition team of local stakeholders will be meeting next Tuesday at the Wilton CareerCenter to begin plotting out the next few steps. Pelletier said that some early action could take the form of needs surveys for the Barclaycard employees, followed by workshops tailored to meet those needs, as well as an on-site job fair. Pelletier said that DOL had already been taking calls from employers interested in hiring trained workers. The rapid response team could also hire a couple Barclaycard employees to act as peer counselors. The advanced notice of the March 31 closing date provided some time, Pelletier said, but it was important to begin setting up a plan of action quickly.

One way the DOL could help, Saviello suggested, was providing funding to keep the local CareerCenter open more than three days a week if necessary.

State Sen. Russell Black (R - Wilton), who attended the meeting with Rep. Randall Hall (R - Wilton) and Rep. Scott Landry (D - Farmington), said that efforts moving forward should not neglect the possibility of bringing a new business into the space, taking advantage of both a state-of-the-art facility and a workforce that Black said had been repeatedly lauded by Barclays for their high quality work. While supporting the Barclaycard employees should be a priority, Black said, it was important that the entire cohort be marketed as an opportunity for another business.

"We've got a unique group of people there," Black said. He said that he supported approaching the issue from both the standpoint of employee support and seeking a new employer for the space.

In addition to the employees, the building at 128 Weld Road has seen significant investment. Five million dollars of renovations were completed in 2015. The renovation included improving two floors and adding new work areas, kitchen pantries adjacent the work spaces and a modern cafeteria. Also added on the lower level was a large, 100-seat capacity meeting room. Technological improvements included the installation of a new air system generator, acoustical paneling and upgrades to security and handicap accessibility.

The building was leased by Barclays and is owned by the Western Maine Development Group, LLC.

Diane Jackson of the DECD said that that agency would be reaching out to potential interested parties.

Wednesday's meeting concluded with the Board of Selectpersons going into Executive Session to discuss an economic development issue.

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4 Responses »

  1. This will impact our small community and it's businesses in so many ways. I have worked here for nearly 10 years.

  2. Not to mention the trickle-down effect these people won't be able to spend their paychecks around town anymore

  3. Thank you all for your support. As an employee of Barclays though, I wonder how you all knew for sure about this before we did. It seemed that all the news channels knew, you guys did, and everyone did before Tuesday, when us employees were given the news. We all had a feeling about it but nothing definate before Tuesday at 1pm. I find it difficult to believe that you didn't know before us. This makes me upset. I think we should have known first...

  4. @ Judith I wonder if your thoughts are true, that doesn’t show much respect for the employees does it ? I wonder if the employees started going to new jobs asap how would they deal with being short handed. If they have that much disregard for the employees why should the employees sink with barclays ship.