Tulsa's runaway job growth has hit a speed bump. On Wednesday, First Data Corporation, a large, multi-national company, says it is cutting 300 of the 400 jobs at its Tulsa office. The News On 6â€™s Steve Berg reports the company says the cuts are a result of losing a large client, but the economic news is not all bad.
First Data made a big splash when they arrived on the Tulsa scene back in 1995, with its call center and credit card processing operation. In fact, they were one of the early recipients of what was then Oklahoma's new Quality Jobs program.
"I believe this is the 87th company that has applied and been approved for a Quality Jobs incentive. This is the single largest one," said former state representative Don McCorkle.
But now three-quarters of the 400 workers at their east Tulsa office are going to be let go according to the company.
"I'm like anyone else. I don't like to see anyone lose a job," said Tulsa Metro Chamber economist Bob Ball.
But Ball says if there was ever a good time to be laid-off in Tulsa, it's now, because he says companies are hiring in Tulsa much faster than the national average.
"There's lots of employers out there right now in Tulsa who are doing quite well, who are thriving, that would be able to pick them up and who would welcome them right now," Ball said.
The good news is two other large call centers are expected to open in Tulsa in just the next couple of months. At the Fontana Shopping Center, the Gannett Center for Excellence expects to hire 500 workers.
And not long after that, Coca Cola is scheduled to open a new customer service center in the former Eastland Mall. As well as the service industry is doing though, Ball says the real story is in manufacturing.
"In Tulsa, it's really picked up,â€ said Ball. â€œWe account for more than a third of manufacturing employment in the whole state, and that's what we're exporting is heavy machinery, aerospace, aerospace-related products."
Three hundred jobs lost is a lot, no question. But Ball says Tulsa last year had a net gain of 6,000 to 7,000 jobs and is on pace to do that again this year.
So he feels confident the city will come out ahead again in 2007.
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