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Ford Motor Credit closing Henderson office; 200 will lose jobs

Ford Motor Credit company is closing its office in Henderson, leaving about 200 people without jobs, the Review-Journal was told Thursday.

Ford is doing everything in its power to reduce the impact on employees as much as possible, U.S. Rep. Joe Heck said in a statement.

“That does not make this terrible news any less difficult,” he said. “It underscores the need to focus on creating jobs. These people are not a statistic. They are our moms, dads, brothers, sisters, friends and neighbors.”

Ford Motor Credit, which processes car loan applications and payments, laid off about half of its 700-person workforce at its Henderson office in 2009.

Calls to the company’s Las Vegas office were met with busy signals Thursday afternoon.

“They’ve been downsizing for the last couple of years,” said Somer Hollingsworth, president of the Nevada Development Authority, whose mission is to bring new companies to Las Vegas. “We actually thought they were going to close about a year ago, so it wouldn’t surprise me now.”

The layoffs could benefit other companies in Las Vegas that are looking for employees trained in back-office operations, he said.

“These people know how to handle customers. They have good service skills,” Hollingsworth said.

Ford Credit opened its 110,000-square-foot regional service center at the Las Vegas Beltway and Pecos Road in late 2000, employing nearly 600 people. The office handled all aspects of loan service, from origination to closing, along with vehicle liquidation, accounting and customer service.

The company selected Henderson because of lower business costs, attractive tax structure, available labor force, quality of life and access to transportation, a Ford executive said at the time. Other factors included the size of the metropolitan area, fiber-optic technology, the time zone, state work rules and proximity to existing Ford Credit centers.

Salaries of Ford Credit employees started at about $25,000 with medical benefits, corporate profit-sharing, 401(k) retirement plan and bonus pay. Ford Credit, established in 1959, has 19,000 employees in 40 countries and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Ford Motor Co.

In the late 1990s, call centers became a cluster industry in Las Vegas as companies such as Williams-Sonoma, Marin Credit Card, MicroAge and USA Group came here to take advantage of a 24-hour work force and tax incentives for large employers.

Critics of the industry said call centers provided mostly low-paying jobs, which is why most of them were outsourced to India and other countries.

“We saw them start to come back from offshore,” Hollingsworth said. “We were talking to a lot of them. There’s just a lot of incentives offered in other cities. The competition is heated. A lot of them went to Utah. People want to create jobs. I don’t care how much it pays, just create a job.”

The announcement comes as Heck prepares to meet this week with his economic advisers to discuss ways to stabilize and grow the local economy. Those discussions will focus on establishing a climate to foster economic growth with predictable tax structures and regulations; increasing access to private sector capital for small businesses; and developing partnerships such as the Urban Chamber of Commerce’s business incubator that assists startup businesses.

“We have already suffered this news too many times, and I’m sorry we have to hear it again today,” Heck said of Ford Credit’s closing. “The road to recovery is not easy, but I believe we can get on the right path, and I will be there every step of the way.”

Stephens Washington Bureau chief Steve Tetreault contributed to this report. Contact reporter Hubble Smith at hsmith@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0491.

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