PepsiCo transfers 260 workers to IBM

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PepsiCo announced in 2010 that it would expand its facility in Forsyth County by adding sales and service call center operations. Now the company has transferred 260 jobs to IBM. (Journal photo)

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — PepsiCo Inc.’s decision to expand its call-center presence in Winston-Salem in November 2010 was greeted with great fanfare and a combined pledge of $800,000 in local and state incentives.

Fast forward three years, and the Pepsi Beverage expansion has taken a surprising workforce twist.

About 260 full-time employees – nearly one-fourth of the division’s 1,110 local workforce – were transferred Nov. 15 to IBM as part of PepsiCo outsourcing certain financial-services operations under a seven-year contract.

PepsiCo also may have become another example of the limited impact of economic incentives since the company never signed the local and state contracts it sought so intently.

During the 2010 announcement, Gov. Bev Perdue provided a rare behind-the-scenes perspective on more than a year’s worth of negotiations, including her personal conversations with PepsiCo’s top executive, Indra Nooyi, to get PepsiCo to choose Winston-Salem over three other out-of-state company sites.

In the end, the PepsiCo division committed to creating 195 jobs, retaining 870 jobs and spending $7.5 million on renovating local operations over three years in University Corporate Center at 1100 Reynolds Blvd. The center caters to vendors and retailers, not consumers.

“We were relentless with Pepsi. We wouldn’t let this one die,” Perdue said at that time. “This isn’t just about jobs and an expanding call center. It’s the fact that in these globally competitive times, they could have gone anywhere in the world, but they chose to one more time re-up their commitment to this city.”

The incentives “were more about playing defense with the Pepsi operations and not putting the community at risk of losing the existing jobs,” Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines said at the time. “It also was about not losing the community support from Pepsi as an employer and its employees.”

PepsiCo said in a statement Thursday that “transitioning these shared services positions from PepsiCo to IBM was made with careful consideration. This transition will enable us to stay competitive and better meet the needs of our business. There has been no net impact on local employment.”

Read full story: The Winston-Salem Journal