CROSS PLAINS, Wis. -

An insurance company's auto claims center in Cross Plains is closing, leaving 214 people without jobs at the end of the year.

Allstate employees were told about the decision to close the claims facility Wednesday morning, according to a company official.

"We got the news and a lot of people just burst into tears. There was just a lot of sadness," said Allstate employee Kurt Hansen. "We really took a lot of pride in our ability to help people and to suddenly know that's going to come to an end, it's sad."

Many were caught off-guard by the company's announcement, including Cross Plain's Village Administrator Matt Schuenke.

"We found out about the same time the employees were notified." Schuenke said.

Schuenke said the insurance company is one of the larger employers in the village.

"For a village of this size, about 3,500 people and with Allstate employing a significant number in this area, that's a significant business to leave the village," Schuenke said.

Schuenke said the company was leasing the building, and the village is hoping to work with the owner to find another business to use the facility.

Company spokesman Justin Herndon said the layoffs are permanent and the decision was a part of a company efficiency review.

"Technology has helped us realize some more efficiency. It's one of the reasons we have to consolidate our offices. That same technology gain has allowed us to make this a seamless transition for out customers," Herndon said.

Herndon said some employees might be eligible to get other positions within the company.

"We were thunderstruck. We put our heart and soul into this," Hansen said.

Allstate has eight other claims centers. The Cross Plains office is the only one closing.

Employees applying for other jobs within Allstate may also be eligible for relocation assistance. The facility will close on Dec. 31.