The 175-employee cut represents 17 percent of the communication company's local workforce

Qwest Communications International Inc. plans to close its Portland call center in October, the company announced Thursday.

Qwest employs about 1,000 people in the Portland area and would cut about 175 of those workers when it closes its Consumer Sales and Service Center, located at the corner of Southwest Fourth Avenue and Oak Street.

The company has other offices there and will continue to occupy several floors of the building.

The Portland call center jobs are to be moved to other Qwest centers in other states, said company spokesman Bob Gravely. Qwest recently closed a call center in Montana and added call center jobs in Idaho.

"We are concentrating our call center efforts in fewer numbers of centers." Gravely said. "It's a matter of size. We can be more effective in customer service operations when we have more people in fewer places."

In 2004, Qwest expanded its call center care presence in Portland, adding 150 positions to an existing customer service operation. The company had been negotiating with city, state and federal agencies to receive financial incentives in return for adding Portland jobs.

Gravely said that, after going through early compliance procedures to secure the funds, Qwest did not end up taking the incentive money.

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