Up to 230 jobs threatened by layoffs in Fresno area

A lack of broadband infrastructure in the area is one of the reasons Secure Customer Relations, Inc. is moving its operations from Clovis to Utah.A lack of broadband infrastructure in the area is one of the reasons Secure Customer Relations, Inc. is moving its operations from Clovis to Utah.Up to 230 Fresno County jobs are on the line heading into summer, with one local employer relocating to Utah and another waiting anxiously on a state budget.

The two companies have filed notice with the California Employment Development Department in compliance with the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification requirement, which mandates certain employers to give 60 days notice in advance of mass layoffs.

Clovis-based Secure Customer Relations, Inc., plans to move its entire operation to Provo, Utah this month, resulting in the loss of 98 jobs. 

“A few employees have told us they will relocate when we move,” said CEO Carter Beck.

Secure Customer Relations operates a call center that specializes in appointment setting, client prospecting and other functions on behalf of the insurance industry.

Overall, the cost of operations in Provo would be a savings over Clovis, Carter said, including labor costs. He added that Clovis does not have the same level of fiber optic infrastructure as Provo. 

“We move a lot of data and need high capacity,” Beck said. 

The company leases space in Clovis that will be vacated by the end of June.

Tina Sumner, economic development director for the city of Clovis, said the city would like to upgrade its broadband capability.

“This is an issue we are working on,” she said.  

In fact, some parts of Clovis are being connected to broadband this summer through a federally funded program, the Central Valley Next Generation Broadband Infrastructure project, which is targeted at rural areas in the Valley, including some 200 miles in Tulare County.

In late February, the city of Clovis agreed to work cooperatively with the provider on the project, Central Valley lndependent Networks, to install broadband in the city. According to a city staff report, “They propose to install their fiber optic cable in City conduits and in exchange, they will build out the gaps in our infrastructure, add additional conduits where it may be impacted and provide repair, maintenance and locating services for the city's telecommunications fiber optics system and related infrastructure. What has been demonstrated thus far appears to be a win for the City, the region and the entire Central Valley.“  ‘

Social service cuts
Some 134 workers were laid off as of May 31 at childcare provider I-5 Social Services of Fresno, which operates eight childcare centers in rural Fresno County. The centers serve some 500 children and 400 families, said Associate Director Tony Silva. 

”Hopefully this is a temporary move until the state legislature passes the new budget,” Silva said. 

In his new budget, Gov. Jerry Brown has supported cuts to the state’s subsidized childcare program that benefits low-income children.

“We serve the children of farm workers, offering them nutrition and early childhood education,” Silva said. Brown has called for a 20-percent cut in childcare funding. Only one of the eight rural centers is open.