ENNIS - Alliance Data Systems Inc. held its grand opening and ribbon cutting Thursday with many local business and city leaders in attendance.

As well as local representation, executives from Alliance Data Systems and the company’s top client, Direct Energy, were on hand for the ceremonies.

Alliance Data began training 225 employees in March and plans to hire an additional 355 people in the next three to five years.

Jeff Shorter, president of utility services for the company, said the plans to build the facility in Ennis included the desire to build a workplace that employees could enjoy.

“We wanted to build a ‘best in class’ type of facility here in Ennis. Our goal was to construct a building that our employees could be proud of and I think that goal has been recognized,” he said.

Shorter went on to explain the role of the call center in Ennis in relation to the clients that Alliance Data serves.

“The goal of our center is to provide great customer service on behalf of our clients. We strive to do great work for people that matter and we believe Ennis can help us do that,” he said.

The operation was a joint effort between Alliance Data and the city of Ennis. Mayor Russell Thomas and City Manager Steve Howerton were recognized for their contribution in assisting the company with selecting Ennis for its new center.

Thomas shared the credit with the entire city, noting that without everyone’s cooperation, the process wouldn’t have been as seamless.

“This was not a one man/woman show. It took team effort between the chamber, the city and the residents of Ennis. This center has taken 40,000 calls to date and none of that would be possible without team work,” he said.

Thomas went on to joke that after learning that the call center handled customer service calls for Direct Energy, he would be switching his business because, when he called in, he knew he would be speaking to a local.

Laura Raymond, vice president with Direct Energy, which handles the Texas end of the business for Direct Energy, said she was impressed with the level of customer service the employees at the Ennis center.

“The customer’s opinion of Direct Energy is based upon the level of customer service they receive from the employees here at the call center. We have 1 million customers in Texas alone and we look forward to continuing a successful relationship with the people that work in this center and Alliance Data Systems Inc as a company,” she said.

Guests were able to tour the state of the art facilities, hosted by employees from the center.

Alliance Data Systems Inc. has about 9,000 employees within 60 locations world wide.