Update: Hewlett-Packard to Lay Off 500 in Conway

by Luke Jones and Lance Turner  on Monday, Jul. 8, 2013 3:33 pm  

A bank of workstations as seen from the stairwell in Hewlett-Packard's center in Conway. The photo was taken in early 2010, before workers moved into the $28 million facility at the Meadows Office & Technology Park in Conway. (Photo by Mike Pirnique)

Hewlett-Packard of Palo Alto, Calif., the computer and information technology services company that has struggled as PC sales have declined, said Monday that it is laying off 500 people at its services center in Conway.

In a statement, HP said the move is part of a restructuring process announced in May 2012 "designed to simplify business processes, advance innovation and deliver better results for our customers, employees and shareholders." In September, the company said it might cut as many 29,000 workers worldwide. 

Sarah Pompei, an HP spokeswoman, told Arkansas Business that the employees who will lose their jobs in Conway are in HP's customer support specialist and contact center footprint. She said HP will continue to maintain a presence at its facility in Conway. She said the company will help laid off workers transition to new jobs.

"There will be no disruption in any of our services," the statement said. "Customers will still have access to HP's full portfolio of services with the same level of quality."

Brad Lacy, president of the Conway Regional Chamber of Commerce, told Arkansas Business the layoffs were unexpected. 

"We were a little surprised," he said.

HP doesn't release employment numbers at specific locations, but Lacy said the chamber estimated the company to have employed around 1,400 before the layoffs. He said he'll be working with the company to try to find new employment for the workers.

"We need to get with the folks at HP to see how they handle those things internally," Lacy said. "The next few days we'll be contacting employers that may have similar needs for the skill set that you have with those folks. I've been on the phone a couple of times today already, but 500 is a lot to absorb. That's a lot of people."

Video: Brad Lacy talks to THV 11 News about the challenges of replacing 500 jobs in Conway.

The publicly traded company announced the customer service and technical support center in 2008 with great fanfare at a news conference attended by Gov. Mike Beebe and an HP executive. It opened the 150,000-SF, $28 million center at the Meadows Office & Technology Park in Conway in 2010, expecting to employ 1,200 people with average salaries of about $40,000.

At the time, Arkansas officials said landing the project would change people's perceptions about Arkansas.

"It ... will bring high-tech, high-paying jobs to the state," Maria Haley, the former state economic development director who died in 2011, said at the time. "And hopefully, it will bring back some of the people who left the state because they couldn't find quality jobs. And I also think that since the state was able to land this type of particular facility, [it] gives the world a different image" of Arkansas.



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