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First Data to close Melville office, move 'several hundred' jobs

First Data Corp. office in Melville on May

First Data Corp. office in Melville on May 12, 2015. The company said it will close the office and move hundreds of jobs to Long Island City, Queens. Credit: Howard Schnapp

First Data Corp., a credit-card processing company that employs several hundred people in Melville, plans to close that office within six months to a year and transfer many of the jobs to "a large new office east of Manhattan," a spokesman said Tuesday.

First Data spokesman Mark Murphy declined to be more specific about the new location. But some callers who alerted Newsday to the planned closing said the jobs would be moved to Long Island City in Queens.

Murphy, in a statement, said, "We have grown our team in New York City and soon will open a large new office east of Manhattan."

Murphy also declined to disclose how many people work in the Melville office other than saying, "We have several hundred full-time employees and contractors at the location."

In 2007, when the private-equity firm KKR & Co. acquired Atlanta-based First Data for $29 billion, the company employed more than 700 people in the local office.

Murphy said that many of the current Melville employees will remain with the company after the move.

"Many of our people in Melville will remain with First Data at our new location, and we are offering commuter support, relocation assistance, retention and, if needed, outplacement support services," he said.

Suffolk County officials said they contacted the company after hearing about its plans.

"The Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning proactively reached out to offer assistance in helping them keep their offices in Melville," said Joanne Minieri, deputy county executive of economic development and planning. "We still stand committed to working with the company to retain their business in Suffolk County."

In 2003, First Data received Suffolk County Industrial Development Authority property tax breaks totaling $3.283 million over a 10-year period to help with the construction of its Melville facility, said spokesman David Chauvin.

He said the company hadn't contacted the IDA about its plans to leave the Island.

First Data joins the growing list of companies that once received state, county or town tax breaks to expand on Long Island in exchange for adding workers but in the last month have announced plans to pull up stakes or trim their operations here.

Goya Foods Inc. will close it Bethpage distribution operation, which employs 57 people.

Ronkonkoma-based vitamin and food supplement maker NBTY Inc. will close its Amityville manufacturing plant, one of several on the Island, eliminating 214 jobs.

Land O'Lakes Inc., parent of Kozy Shack Enterprises Inc., the Hicksville refrigerated-dessert maker, plans to lay off 32 people.

John A. Rizzo, chief economist for the Long Island Association, the region's largest business group, speculated that a business like First Data most likely employs many young workers and that it might be relocating to make the commute to New York City easier.

"In my mind, it highlights the importance of improving our transportation to and from the city," he said.

"That will make it easier and more attractive for young people who want to live in the city to commute out on Long Island and for younger people on Long Island to commute to the city."

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