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DECATUR - The future of the StarTek business in Decatur is in doubt after all of its remaining employees were given notice Monday they could soon be out of work.

The company notified 258 employees of the possibility its workforce would be reduced at its Decatur facility, located at 1505 W. King St. in Fairview Park Plaza. The layoffs would go into effect in two months if another use for the site is not found, spokeswoman Rosemary Hanratty said.

About 100 employees were already set to lose their jobs Thursday, Hanratty said.

"We are actively looking for replacement business for the site," said Chad Carlson, president and CEO of StarTek. "We have a trained workforce and an experienced leadership team in place with skills applicable for other clients. We will be working hard to find new business for the site."

The company provides calling centers for other businesses. Notice was given according to provisions of the federal WARN law, which provides that employers must give 60 days notice of a mass layoff.

Even as other companies have cut jobs, Denver-based StarTek has for years been a bright spot in the Decatur area as it consistently added positions.

Efforts last year included a drive-through job fair in August to recruit more than 100 employees. At other times throughout the year, the company was actively looking to fill numerous positions.

In the past few years, space at the Decatur facility has been at a premium as the company added jobs.

The relatively sudden change is an indication of the competitive situation contractors such as StarTek face, said Craig Coil, Economic Development Corporation of Decatur and Macon County president.

"While this is really surprising in terms of how quickly it happened, it's not surprising from the standpoint it's kind of the nature of that business," Coil said. "It is troubling just because as recently as two months ago they were hiring."

The city of Decatur and Economic Development Corporation plan to partner with StarTek to help find another opportunity for the business and help in any way they can, Coil said.

The Economic Development Corporation helped to bring StarTek to Decatur in 2003, Coil said. The company has provided entry-level jobs for those in the process of developing their work skills, Coil said.

"They were a good starting point for a number of folks," Coil said. "That's part of the process you have to take advantage of to develop your workforce. They've been critical in that way."

StarTek did not provide details of the reason for the notice except to say the possible reductions are the result of a change in work requirements at the site.

"This is something that came up and we needed to deal with quickly," Hanratty said. "We're very hopeful. We hope our next announcement will be good news."


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