Bidding farewell is always very difficult. But in doing so we try to express appreciation towards those who have impacted our lives. When a good friend moves away, we might throw them a going away party. When a great employee leaves a company it is not uncommon for that organization to recognize that person with a show of appreciation. When one passes, we often memorialize the contributions that person made. So when Sitel announced recently that they would be closing down their Las Cruces operations, I similarly felt the need to memorialize the positive impact they have had on Las Cruces. I did not want the loss to overshadow all that they contributed to our region. With this in mind, I am penning this open letter to Sitel to say thank you for being an impactful member of our community over the last 10 years.
Sitel, in so many ways you have been a great corporate citizen to the City of Las Cruces. Over your time here as one of Las Cruces’ largest private sector employers, you have been an integral part of creating career opportunities for thousands of our residents. In addition you have been at the forefront of workforce development, building the skill sets of individuals throughout the region. Your emphasis on skill enhancement, career development, and workforce satisfaction is beyond reproach. Not only did you focus your training to perform the tasks at hand, but you also brought to your employees’ the real world tools for career success. Critical soft skills and essential skills required in today’s demanding work environment. These included computer literacy, multi-tasking, conflict resolution, financial literacy, and customer service engagement just to name a few. As with all employers, you ARE part of that “last mile” of enhancing a community’s workforce development and for that we are appreciative. Along the way, you dispelled the myth that BPO’s (call centers) only come to a community for three years and then leave. In fact, the quality of the workforce you helped develop led to the attraction of other similar operations to the area, creating hundreds of more jobs, and further dispelling this idea of a transient industry.
Along the way you encouraged your workforce to become community leaders, they themselves, growing into ambassadors for the City of Las Cruces. Several of those employees traveled around the country and even internationally, to teach best practices at other Sitel locations. Many of those employees volunteered and participated in significant ways at festivities and events year round. I cannot think of one community event where I have not seen a friendly Sitel face. Your charitable giving as a corporation to so many important causes and to the non-profit groups of the region also does not go unnoticed.
I would also be remised if I didn’t address your economic impact to our region. MVEDA’s economic impact modeling (which usually errs on the conservative side) estimates over $11M in tax base that you created for the city, county and state. We estimate over $120M in new household spending that was created as a result thereby providing positive impact on so many of our local small businesses. And finally we estimate that over 500 additional indirect jobs were potentially created because you chose Las Cruces as your home for the past 10 years.
In many ways, and because of the fact that you were such a great corporate citizen to Las Cruces, your loss seems to weigh heavier, stirring different types of emotions across the community. But I am hopeful that this is a reminder to all of us of, not only the importance of economic development and job creation, but also of the human resource and financial investments required to grow jobs and diversify our industries
Although you will be missed we are confident that your employees will prosper to new opportunities and heights. Your reputation for having one of the lowest industry attrition rates in the country has already led to many calls to our office by interested site selection firms and back office service support companies. Existing employers in the region have called us with expressed interest in the workforce that you helped develop. In short, your employees are in demand and they should feel confident about their opportunities because they are highly valued and sought after.
Sitel, thank you for the ten great years you gave Las Cruces!
Davin Lopez is the President/CEO of the Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance (MVEDA), a public-private partnership that is the leading economic development organization in Southern New Mexico.