In 1989, the Internet was in its infancy, the Soviet Union was crumbling and gasoline cost an average of $1.02 a gallon. That same year, New York-based Citicorp established a credit card collections operation off Mineola Pike in Erlanger.

Today, the Internet is everywhere, the Soviet Union is gone and gasoline, well, that’s changed, too.

And Citicorp’s operation has blossomed into one of the bank’s largest credit customer service operations in North America, employing 2,500 operating out of two interconnected buildings on Houston Road in Florence.

Most of the employees deal with credit customers in some fashion, says Niki Clare, vice president, communications and public affairs.

On Oct. 1, the global financial services company will host a town meeting at the Florence site with community partners, senior executives and others to spotlight its successes over the last 25 years and discuss what it needs to do to sustain that success.

The event will be the focal point of a week of activities, including an employee appreciation picnic celebrating Citi’s 25th anniversary in Northern Kentucky.

“For more than two decades, our employees have truly demonstrated their commitment and dedication to Citi, making this a valuable site for the company,” says Tina Shell, site president. “As we celebrate this milestone, it is important for us to recognize the history of our accomplishments, and also plan for the future.”

Citicorp, the global company, was originally drawn to Northern Kentucky by a number of factors: air service through Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, the cost of doing business, availability of education resources and quality of life.

Initial employment grew quickly to about 1,000 employees and the company needed more room. In 1997, it moved to a new building in Boone County, a 180-acre site purchased from the Covington Catholic Diocese. It expanded again five years later with the addition of Citibank Client Services in 2002, swelling employment to more than 2,400.

Education has been a big part of the Citi story in Northern Kentucky. In 2002, former Florence site leader Gregg Morton and Dr. Edward Hughes, president/CEO of Gateway Community and Technical College, collaborated on a unique partnership.

Gateway provides a variety of career development resources and classes so Citi employees can begin or complete college credentials at the company’s campus.

The program includes a Gateway academic advisor who spends 20 hours a week on site, a nine-week career discovery class to help employees define career paths and academic goals and on-site classes toward certificates and degrees.

Some 2,900 Citi employees have been served by the partnership. Nearly 950 Citi employees have participated in the career discovery class since its inception and more than 330 have achieved at least one grade level promotion, the company says.

Citi has replicated parts of the program at its other sites around the country and Gateway has introduced the program with other area companies.

Earlier this year, the Gateway-Citi partnership received the national Bellwether Award for Workforce Development from the Community College Futures Assembly and the University of Florida.

Gateway is one of more than 35 community partners Citi has in Northern Kentucky. Giving back is also a big part of the Citi story. Employees contribute more than 17,000 volunteer hours annually to various organizations.