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Alorica, the California-based call-center operator that in 2018 said it was doubling employment at its Mendota Heights facility to about 600, informed workers this week that it will close the facility on March 15.

An Alorica vice president sent a notice to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development on Tuesday saying the company expects 158 employees to lose their jobs. It's unclear if Alorica expects others to leave voluntarily before then or transfer to other Alorica offices elsewhere, as company official Dan Finnegan suggested in a memo Tuesday to employees.

"During the notice period between now and the termination date, you will remain subject to and expected to abide by company procedures, and job expectations," Finnegan wrote to employees.

"Failure to do so can result in involuntary termination before the termination date," the memo said. "Although change can be challenging, we hope you will remain with Alorica during your notice period, and we ask everyone to remain respectful of one another and committed to meeting job expectations."

In November 2018, Kevin Greer, the director of the then 350-employee Mendota Heights customer-contact center, said Alorica planned to expand the facility.

"We plan to add another 300 people by the end of the year," Greer said. "We serve one of the largest retail pharmacy chains in the country and a growing global travel company [from Mendota Heights] and a few other clients."

Greer also told the Star Tribune 14 months ago that it was adding $2 per hour to most workers' wages, effectively raising the Mendota Heights plant minimum wage to $14 an hour, plus health care and vacation for a workforce that Greer said was mostly full time.

It's not clear what has changed. Greer did not respond to an e-mail on Wednesday, however the company sent a statement.

"As we continue to stay on top of market trends and evolve with our clients' business needs, we sadly must make changes that sometimes impact our people," an Alorica spokeswoman said in an e-mail. "We thank each of our departing colleagues for their contributions and we are committed to treating them with respect, as we do all our employees, during this transition."

A spokeswoman for the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce said she and her colleagues were unaware of the closure and were concerned about the news.

In October, Alorica, which employs 100,000-plus people at 100 customer-contact centers worldwide, kicked off a global hiring fair to recruit 25,000 customer-experience associates.

"Alorica has generated tens of thousands of jobs over the last 20 years, and we're proud to continue creating career opportunities for people around the world," said Chief Operating Officer Greg Haller. "Our people are the heart of our business, providing the best customer experiences."

Privately held Alorica, started in 1999 and is based in Irvine, Calif.

Neal St. Anthony • 612.673.7144