TAMPA — Less than 2½ years after celebrating the launch of its new call center with the mayor of Tampa, Iron Bow Technologies this week said it will close the entire operation permanently and eliminate all 178 jobs.
Iron Bow's decision comes as a second company, Novo Health Services, likewise told the state of Florida that it plans to close its Tampa operations center and lay off another 57 employees.
Iron Bow, an information technology company based in a Virginia suburb of Washington, D.C.,opened the Tampa call center in early 2017 to handle Blue Cross Blue Shield call center operations for CareFirst, a Maryland-based provider of medical, vision and dental insurance.
"Tampa seemed like the perfect location (with) a great talent pool," CareFirst Consumer Direct operations director Rodney Baylor said at the opening of the 24,000-square-foot facility in the Woodland Corporate Center south of W Waters Avenue. "We're excited to be here. We plan to be here for some time to come."
Instead, Iron Bow will eliminate all its jobs in Tampa, 151 of them filled by customer service representatives, from June 28 to July 15.
Iron Bow’s work for CareFirst was supplemental to work that CareFirst already was doing at its headquarters in Owings Mills, Md., and CareFirst ended up deciding to consolidate all that work using its own staff, Iron Bow president and chief executive officer Rene LaVigne said Friday.
“It wasn’t performance-related at all, but was essentially a business decision to bring that work back in-house,” LaVigne said. Despite the outcome, he said, Iron Bow had a good experience in Tampa and would consider the city again for a similar operation.
Iron Bow did not receive any economic incentives from the state, county or city to move to Tampa, though the nonprofit Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. helped the company receive expedited permitting from Hillsborough County and to post jobs and seek workforce training grants with CareerSource Tampa Bay.
Layoffs also will begin on June 28 at Novo Health Services' plant at 4501 Acline Drive E, southeast of Ybor City near the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway. The Atlanta-based company specializes in providing linens and reusable surgical gowns and similar supplies to hospitals. It said in a letter to the state that it is closing its Tampa facility because of a "significant decline in business in the greater Tampa services market." Layoffs will continue through Aug. 23.
Contact Richard Danielson at [email protected] or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times