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Entergy leaving, but old WorldCom building not empty

The Entergy Corporation has called the former WorldCom building in Clinton home since Hurricane Katrina displaced it from its New Orleans headquarters last August. Now those employees — about one third of all corporate employees — are heading back to New Orleans.

The move was expected by Clinton Mayor Rosemary Aultman, who isn’t concerned about the empty space in the building now owned by Verizon. She acknowledges that Entergy said they would maintain a presence in New Orleans.

“We’re not surprised by their leaving,” she said. “We’ve seen their employees out and about and it’s been good for our community to have them here, and we reached out to them.”
She isn’t sure how many Entergy employees lived in Clinton as the corporation rented apartments for them all over the metro area.

The city is not involved in marketing space in the large building. “Verizon owns the building and they will decide the long-term plans,” she said. “Verizon and Skytel are still there. There have been 1,200 people working in the building all along. It’s been a misconception that it was empty. It has not been empty at any time.”

Aultman, who’s in her fourth term as mayor, says she isn’t worried about the building being empty because it’s class A office space and there are always inquiries about it.

“It’s a beautiful campus with a walking trail and a lake. It’s built like three separate facilities joined by a common atrium,” she said. “Everyone who works there loves it.”

Around the South

Morgan Stewart, a spokesman for Entergy Corporation, said the company used approximately a third of the building. In addition to the 425 employees based in Clinton, others have been temporarily working in The Woodlands, Texas, and Little Rock, Ark. Entergy has been headquartered in New Orleans since 1922 and some employees have begun returning to the facilities there. Others, including some with children attending out-of-town schools or who do not have a home to return to at the present time, will return later.

“It was truly a business decision, but we can’t ignore the fact that New Orleans is our home and we want to be part of the rebuilding,” he said. “We also took a survey of employees and they want to go back. That survey was included in several metrics that led to the decision.”

Entergy’s chief executive officer J. Wayne Leonard said, “We are happy to be coming home and are energized about continuing to help rebuild the city and hope our decision — as disciplined as any we have ever made — will send a strong message that the city is returning to its previous greatness.”

A new model

In addition to the return of its corporate headquarters to New Orleans, Entergy announced that it will establish new primary offices in other locations — including Mississippi — to better align functional processes with business unit needs. Leonard said the company would move beyond the outdated headquarters model with everyone in one city and one building.

“We’re pleased that in the short term, and longer term, there will be new Entergy jobs in other cities in our region,” he said. “Our friends in Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas, as well as Louisiana, showed before and after the hurricanes that they are good neighbors with good places to live and do business.”

Stewart said the Mississippi facility will be an office for regional transmission operations, the operation that gets energy from the substations to homes and businesses. “It may include other functions, but we don’t know at this time,” he said. “We also don’t know the number of employees who will be in Mississippi. That number will be driven by business.”

Checky Herrington, spokesman for Entergy Mississippi, said the new office will most likely be in Jackson in addition to the Entergy Mississippi and Entergy Nuclear headquarters.

“That’s good news for Mississippi. These will be professional and engineering-type jobs,” he said. “We will essentially by exploring a new path as this new model evolves. It’s a way of putting together groups that work together. It will be good for our customers as we continue to serve them the best we can.”

By bringing the transmission group to Jackson, Herrington said all the planning and operations for that function for four states will be done in Mississippi. Additionally, he said the storm response team will move here, but he doesn’t know how many employees that will include. All of Entergy’s response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita were managed from Mississippi.

“Hurricane Katrina was a terrible time in our history but out of that is coming something good as we look for ways to serve our customers better,” he added.

As corporate employees vacate the Clinton building, Stewart said, “Everyone here, all our employees and executives, are very thankful for the hospitality shown to us by the city and state governments, businesses and the community.”

Entergy owns and operates power plants and serves 45 counties in Mississippi.

Contact MBJ contributing Lynn Lofton at llofton656@aol.com.

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