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Barclaycard US to Expand Wilton Call Center, Add 100 Jobs
08/27/2013   Reported By: A.J. Higgins

A major British credit card company is planning to expand its customer call center in Wilton as part of a strategy to enlarge its American operations. Barclaycard US plans to hire 100 new employees this year, bringing the total number of workers to 250 by the ed of this year. While the jobs are welcome, some analysts say Maine is still not seeing enough growth in its high-tech and manufacturing sectors. A.J. Higgins has more.

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In the aftermath of the loss of 140 Humvee refurbishment jobs at the Maine Military Authority in Limestone, Gov. Paul LePage was only too happy to announce the addition of 100 new workers at the Barclaycard US call center in Wilton.

"I want to thank the Barclaycard USA, it's chief operating officer, Patrick, which I just met a few minutes ago," LePage said. "Your investment in Maine and its people is very much appreciated."

Barclaycard US is headquartered in Delaware and creates customized co-branded credit card programs for businesses, ranging from those in the entertainment industry to banking institutions. The additional 100 jobs it wants to add to its call center in Wilton will bring total employment to 250 at the facility.

At a State House press conference, Patrick Wright, the company's chief operating officer, said he hopes to add another 100 jobs at Wilton by the end of next year. Wright said the company will offer good-paying, full-time jobs that include health care coverage and a 401K retirement plan with a matching benefit.

He was reluctant to provide details of how generous the company's salary and benefit plans would be. "So to protect the privacy of our employees, we don't talk about specific salaries," Wright said. 'We think it's best to talk about that we pay very competitive salaries and we have very competitive benefits, and we're actually very proud of not only how we treat our employees but how they're compensated."

State Department of Economic and Community Development Director George Gervais says Barclaycard would benefit from Maine's Pine Tree Zone tax incentive program, as well as a quality labor force.

"This is absolutely what we work so hard for, and what we're fighting for in this administration," Gervais said. "So, hopefully, we'll see many more of these celebrations in the months to come."

"The problem is, again, we've got every politician wanting to jump on a ribbon-cutting opportunity when the jobs come, and there's nobody around when the jobs leave," says Alan Caron.

Caron is the president of Envison Maine, a non-partisan think tank that explores new approaches to producing a better standard of living in the state. He says there have been a lot of lost opportunities over the last two years for Maine to add high-tech jobs to the economy.

While he says the new call center positions would be welcomed by those in need of a job, he would like to see greater effort by Gov. LePage to attract jobs for workers with advanced skills.

"We've got to ask ourselves, 'Is this really the future we want for Maine?' - everything from the Wal-Marts to the calling centers to working at the casino - is this what we want for Maine?" Caron says. "I don't think it is, and I think we've got to set our sights higher, and we've got to figure out a way for people to work together on a new plan for the economy."

LePage commented during the press conference that business opportunities won't grow in Maine until the Democratically-controlled Legislature is willing to work with his administration to make them happen.


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