BLUEFIELD, W.Va. — The Caterpillar Global Mining America call center located on Commerce Street in downtown Bluefield will be closing in October, company officials confirmed Wednesday.
But with the recent decline in the coal industry, the company announced a workforce reduction at the downtown Bluefield site earlier this April. A statement released Wednesday from Penny Wu, a spokesman for Caterpillar Global Mining America LLC, confirmed reports that the call center will be closing next month.
“The company announced a workforce reduction at its facility in Bluefield in April,” the company statement said. “With the recent announcement regarding room and pillar products, the company decided to close the Bluefield facility by the end of October. Caterpillar understands this decision is difficult for the impacted workers and their families, but these actions are necessary to position the company for long-term success.”
It was not immediately clear Wednesday how many employees were still working at the site.
Marc Meachum, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Bluefield Chamber of Commerce, said the call center was down to only a couple of employees.
“We know they only have a handful of employees, but we haven’t heard they were going to close,” Meachum said. “But we understood there were fewer folks working. These are not your typical call center folks. These are technical folks.”
“Although I was not involved with this initial project, I work very closely with (Mercer County Development Authority Director) Janet Bailey, and I’m sure it would be an opportunity for us to market it to other similar operations that could come in and open up a call center in Bluefield,” Spencer said.
While the looming closure of the Caterpillar call center is unfortunate, Spencer said the city must move forward and aggressively market the building in hopes of finding a new tenant.
Spencer said the building is not owned by the city. He said that Bailey and the Development Authority office worked to bring Caterpillar into the city in 2015. A message left with Bailey Wednesday regarding the Caterpillar closure wasn’t immediately returned.
Charles Owens is the Daily Telegraph’s assistant managing editor. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him @bdtowens.