BELFAST, Maine — A spokesman for Bank of America on Tuesday said that he would not comment on rumors that a change will be coming for the company’s Belfast call center, which now employs 800 people.
“What I can tell you is that we’ll continue to maintain a significant presence in the Belfast community,” said T.J. Crawford, a communications executive with the bank.
However, a source close to the bank who declined to be named said that he expected an announcement to be made soon that the company will consolidate its Belfast operations from four buildings to one, with no job losses associated with the move. The bank is located in four buildings that it leases from Boston-based firm Stag Industrial, Inc.
It is unclear which facilities will be vacated and which one will continue to be used. The buildings, constructed by credit card giant MBNA, were sold in 2005 when that company was merged into Bank of America. At that time, MBNA employed nearly 2,000 people in Belfast, but Bank of America downsized its Maine operations, cutting jobs and vacating some of the Belfast properties while still maintaining its position as the largest employer in Waldo County.
Belfast City Manager Joe Slocum said Tuesday that if Bank of America really is consolidating into just one of the large corporate structures located on the Route 3 corridor, he will look at it as an economic opportunity.
“We would see that as an opportunity to utilize better space, from an economic development standpoint,” Slocum said. “If you have a building one-third full, no one else can use the rest of it. We appreciate [Bank of America’s] presence, we absolutely do. If they’re consolidating and freeing up rental space, we would welcome the opportunity to find new tenants for those buildings.”
Slocum said that when Bank of America first took over and vacated some of the property formerly occupied by MBNA, there were people in town worried about the empty space and possible creeping blight.
“I said the glass was half full,” he remembered.
Now, several years after health technology company athenahealth moved into some of the former MBNA offices, that company has at least six hundred employees, Slocum said.
“There’s nothing worse than seeing an economic asset that’s underutilized,” he said. “This will create opportunity.”