AUGUSTA – Barclays PLC, a London-based banking company, announced from Gov. John Baldacci’s office on Thursday that it is opening a customer service call center in Wilton.

The facility will be at 128 Weld Road and be operational June 15. The company, which is the 11th largest credit card issuer in the United States, expects the center will initially create 50 jobs and projects it will employ 200 people over 10 years.

“Barclays has a great reputation and is known as a high-quality employer,” said Baldacci.

Joe Purzycki, chief operating officer for Barclaycard, the retail credit card division in the United States, said the company chose Wilton for a variety of reasons.

“We think you have a great work force for customer care, we think you’re near quality educational institutions, which is always important for us when recruiting new talent, and we’ll also get the quality of life that will continue to attract quality people,” Purzycki said.

Tom Karinshak, Barclaycard’s managing director for customer service, said new employees will have five weeks of training before they start taking service calls.

“For the initial 50 jobs, the average salary would be roughly in the $26,000-plus range, with a full set of benefits,” Karinshak said.

Karinshak said a major attraction was the Quality Centers program offered by the community college system. The program trains employees for new or expanding businesses in Maine at no cost and creates a specific curriculum based on the needs of the business.

“They are going to actually come to our location in Wilton to help us on whatever it is our new employees need,” Karinshak said.

John Richardson, commissioner of the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, said the Quality Centers program was a part of the governor’s initiative to provide businesses with a “one stop shop.”

“You have community colleges and you have a labor survey that looks for the right kind of workers to fit this type of job, he said, “so that everyone understands their job and everyone understands what needs to happen to make a success of it.”

Rep. Tom Saviello, U-Wilton, offered his welcome to the new company.

“Welcome to Wilton, center of the universe,” he said.

“The people I represent are such unique people. After losing manufacturing jobs in Wilton, no one said, ‘Woe is me,’ but instead they have worked hard to see the next step,” the legislator said.

“When Barclays saw the people, they knew this is the place they need to be. It’s a quality place with quality workers, and I’m sure that made the decision very easy.

“If we can bring the business in, they can bring benefits with them like health insurance and that will break the cycle of poverty.

“The things we are doing now with the community college … we have a work force ready to go to work. People deserve this,” Saviello said.

Town Manager Peter Nielsen, who attended the governor’s conference with selectmen’s Chairman Paul Gooch on Thursday, said, “Good things bring more good things. Wilton is on a roll with the new development on the highway and now this project. This is a company with an international reach and it’s a first-class organization.

“They talked about 50 jobs by June and maybe 80 by fall, and more if things go well with wages ranging around $26,000 and benefits,” he said. “It’s encouraging.”

Selectman Terry Brann said the announcement was great news.

“It’s a good deal if we can bring people in Wilton back to work since we lost everything for our shoemakers and mill workers.”

Doreen Cardona of Wilton, a branch manager at KeyBank, was equally enthused.

“I think that’s fabulous … just what this area needs … great paying jobs with benefits. If they can provide that, it will help boost the way of life in Wilton.”

Gil Reed of Nichols Group, which leases space to ICT, said he he’s working with ICT to create space for Barclays.

“Anytime we can bring jobs to Wilton or we can add or retain jobs in Franklin County,” he said, “it’s some kind of exciting. These folks, along with ICT, are going to take it a lot further … This is just an added opportunity for more people.”

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