Jun 13

Alliance Data named business of the year

The city’s business of the year apparently didn’t need a full 12 months to prove its merit.

The Rio Rancho Economic Development Corp. named Alliance Data Systems Corp. the city’s business of the year on Thursday, bestowing the honor just eight months after the credit-card services company arrived in town.

Alliance Data took over the former Victoria’s Secret customer care center in Rio Rancho last September, keeping most of the existing employees on staff. Bev McMillan, senior director of operations for the Rio Rancho site, said 278 of the approximately 300 Victoria’s Secret employees who were part of the transition remain on Alliance’s payroll.

Dallas-based Alliance provides customer support services to retailer private label credit card programs. The Rio Rancho center handles 19 of those accounts, including Victoria’s Secret. It is the smallest of Alliance’s six Retail Services centers but is expected to add 125 employees in 2013 as Alliance’s business grows, McMillan said.

The state’s Job Training Incentive Program approved more than $1.3 million in job training assistance for Alliance last fall in order to help create 308 jobs.

McMillan said Alliance has also maintained the community-services momentum the center generated under Victoria’s Secret management.

Within weeks of Alliance’s takeover, the center launched a 2013 United Way campaign that drew $93,000 in pledges, she said. During the holiday season, employees donated canned food to Roadrunner Food Bank and more than 200 coats to local shelters.

The site will launch a book drive next month, McMillan said.

I’m excited, I’m honored, and we’re humbled, McMillan said of the award. The award is a great recognition for Alliance Data in general, that we recognize that we are a part and a thread in the community and we are committed to making sure there is job security in the local Rio Rancho area.

Gov. Susana Martinez, who gave the keynote address at same luncheon where the business of the year was announced, told the audience she wants more private industry to come to New Mexico to give it a more diverse economic base. She also credited state lawmakers with passing legislation aimed at that goal.

It’s unwise to rely so heavily on the federal funding that comes from the states’ national labs and military bases, she said during her keynote address Thursday at Chamisa Hills Country Club.

She pointed out that the sequestration, or cuts in federal spending that began earlier this year, would affect New Mexico disproportionately, compared to other states.

Part of the effort to diversify the economic base is already under way, thanks to the compromise tax package that was passed in the last seconds of the most recent legislative session, the governor said.

The package included the so-called Breaking Bad film credit expansion, which increases the rebate to film companies for direct, in-state expenditures by 5 percent, bringing it up to 30 percent.

She said the film industry is doing good things here and that she even watched the Breaking Bad series on her iPad while traveling around the state. I was hooked, she said.

The legislative package also included a measure that gradually reduces the state’s top-end business tax rate from 7.6 percent to 5.9 percent over a five-year period, as well as the single sales factor option for businesses.

Martinez noted that companies like Intel in Rio Rancho will be helped by the single sales factor.

New Mexico was also first in the nation in export growth, she said.

It’s not often you get to hear New Mexico being No. 1 on a good list, she said.

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