45 lose jobs as Fort Kent business closes

Posted April 08, 2010, at 8:21 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:31 a.m.

FORT KENT, Maine — Approximately 45 people are out of work now that a Fort Kent business has closed it doors.

Synergy Solutions, a nationally recognized outsource call center business specializing in customer relations and management, apparently shut down its Pleasant Street facility on Monday, according to town officials. The shutdown comes on the heels of a major layoff last month.

Approximately a quarter of the 75 employees at the facility were laid off in March after the loss of a long-term client. At the time, Corey Conklin, Synergy’s chief operating officer, told the Bangor Daily News that there were no plans to close the facility.

So it came as a surprise earlier this week when the facility closed, John Bannen, director of planning and economic development for the town, said Thursday.

“We know that they have shut the place down,” he confirmed. “It was very sudden and very shocking. We have not heard from the company directly. We have just heard that this happened because Synergy did not have any contracts in the pipeline.”

Officials from Synergy Solutions have not returned repeated phone calls requesting comment on the situation.

Synergy Solutions announced plans to set up shop in Fort Kent in March 2007 and began hiring employees immediately. The company opened its doors a short time later. The facility is located in the former MBNA call center building. The move to the St. John Valley town created 80 full-time jobs and numerous part-time posi-tions.

Just 4½ months after Synergy Solutions opened, Conklin said that employment expectations already had been surpassed. He announced plans to add 40 more jobs to the employee roster.

Bannen said the company was not a major taxpayer, as it leased the building from the Northern Maine Finance Corp. It did pay property tax on its equipment, according to Bannen.

“It wasn’t much, but a loss of revenue is still a loss of revenue,” he said Thursday. “It is going to hurt us.”

“The loss of jobs is what is going to hurt us more,” he continued. “This just isn’t easy to swallow. Things are slow right now, so it is not like these employees can just go out and easily find other jobs around here. Times are too tough.”

Synergy also operates call centers in Scottsdale, Ariz.; Johnson City, N.Y.; Bemidji, Minn.; Milbank, S.D.; Pensacola, Fla.; and a secure data center in Dallas, Texas.

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