WDS Global Investment Pays Off Despite Closure

WDS Global Investment Pays Off Despite Closure

A major Wichita Falls employer has announced its closure. WDS Global, a Xerox company, will force 257 employees out of a job by the end of August.

Meanwhile, Xerox officials have given little explanation on why the business is shutting down.

"Unfortunately, we have made the difficult but necessary decision to close the Wichita Falls facility because it is no longer sustainable," said Coco Salazar, Xerox Corporate Communications Manager. "We realize this affects individuals, and every effort is being made to ensure that all employees are treated fairly."

All of those employees losing their jobs will have the opportunity to apply for home-based company care positions.

"We expect to rehire 100 of the affected individuals for other opportunities at Xerox," said Salazar.

The company was brought to Wichita Falls back in February 2010 after the Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce presented a $3.6 million incentive package to Wichita Falls City Council. The package provided $1.2 million in equipment and facility improvements and $2.4 million for cash for jobs.

"Economic development is just one of those things, you take a risk no matter who the company is," said Chamber of Commerce CEO Henry Florsheim.

Even though the company is closing its doors for good, chamber officials said the investment was well worth it. Over the companies five year stay in Wichita Falls they put back $125 million into the local economy, according to Florsheim.  

The money was used from the city's 4A tax fund. A fund set up to strictly provide money for economic development projects. The money spent compared to economic return is 2.2 percent, according to Florsheim.

"We certainly feel for those people that have lost their jobs and Workforce Solutions has a great staff that can take care of them," said Florsheim. "When you have a payoff like that, yeah absolutely it makes sense."

Under the initial terms, the company was supposed to generate 750 jobs. However over the five year period the employment numbers ranged from 250 to 525. As those employment numbers continued to dip, the Chamber of Commerce did not spend all the incentive money.

The city saved $881,100 from the incentive package. That money was put back in 4A tax funds to use on other economic development projects, according to Chamber of Commerce officials.  

The impressive numbers might not mean a whole lot to those that are being let go.

“There are enough good things going on in this community to where we should be able to provide assistance to those people to get jobs,” said Florsheim.

Workforce Solutions officials say they are already making preparations and putting together emergency response teams to step in and address the situation.

Before those doors close for good, an Austin representative from Workforce Solutions will speak to those employees and give them their unemployment options. Meanwhile, chamber officials say they are working to fill the space before it sits vacant.

“We've got some other projects we're working on too,” said Florsheim. “So you're going to see more job creation here and hopefully long term we won't see any negative impact.”

Chamber of Commerce officials are already looking for other call center companies to fill the spot. There are already three potential leads according to Kevin Pearson, Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President.

The process for filling the building will take some time. But they expect to have a new company in, in about six months to a year. The doors to the company will officially close for good on August 28.

Brittany Costello, Newschannel 6