A Goose Creek call center that was recently acquired by North America's largest rental-car business is shutting down next year, eliminating 250 local jobs.
Enterprise Rent-A-Car said it plans to close the customer-service operation on St. James Avenue on May 31.
Employees were notified of the decision Tuesday, said company spokeswoman Laura Bryant.
"The bottom line is that the facility and the call-handling technology have become outdated," she said.
When the $10 million reservations center was opened in a shuttered Kmart by National Car Rental more than a decade ago, it was described by National's then-chief executive as "a technical marvel."
But the structure is now in need of some major improvements, such as upgrades to the backup electrical system, Bryant said. The company has determined that the cost of bringing the call center up to modern standards "is more than we can justify," she said.
"This obviously was a very difficult decision to make," Bryant said. "I can't stress enough that it in no way reflects on the effort and commitment of the 250 employees who staff the center."
She said St. Louis-based Enterprise notified the workers about the closing this week to give them ample time to line up new jobs. The company plans to offer outplacement assistance and work with the Employment Security Commission. It also will pay up to six months of severance wages to workers who stay with the company through the closing, Bryant said.
The call center was opened in 1996 to book reservations for National and, later, Alamo Car Rental. Both brands were owned by Vanguard Car Rental, which Enterprise bought in August.
Bryant said the decision to pull up stakes in Berkeley County came out of "a very careful analysis" of the newly acquired company's operations.
The calls now being handled in Goose Creek will be rerouted to Enterprise's centers in St. Louis and Salt Lake City, as well as a new reservations hub it is building in Eugene, Ore.
John Scarborough, Berkeley County's economic development director, said the rental car giant had not notified his office about the closing as of Wednesday. He said the large, wired Enterprise space could attract a "back-office" business operation that wants a building already equipped to handle many calls or lots of electronic data.
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