The Charlotte Observer
1:09 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

MetLife To Bring 2,600 Jobs To Charlotte And Cary

In what’s billed as the biggest jobs announcement in state history, Gov. Pat McCrory Thursday announced the arrival of 2,600 jobs with insurance giant MetLife, with half coming to Charlotte.

MetLife, America’s largest life insurer, would add jobs in Cary and Charlotte. MetLife, America’s largest life insurer, would add jobs in Charlotte and Cary by the end of 2015 in what will be a $125.5 million investment.

“We’re proud that a strong corporate partner like MetLife has decided to invest in North Carolina,” McCrory said in a statement. “These jobs will complement our financial services sector in Charlotte and our high-tech hub in Wake County, two distinct sectors we want to expand.”

The state is providing $116 million in tax incentives over 12 years.

The news is a boon to a state whose 9.5 percent unemployment rate remains one of the nation’s highest.

McCrory was scheduled to formally announce the jobs at 1 p.m. at Raleigh’s Marriott Hotel. Thursday’s announcement is expected to be followed by one Friday in Charlotte.According to a release, MetLife plans to establish hubs for its U.S. Retail Business in Charlotte and for its Global Technology & Operations organization in Cary.

New positions would include product management, marketing, sales and customer support in Charlotte and information technology positions in Cary.

“This administration is committed to working with companies like MetLife to spur job creation and growth,” Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker said in a statement.

MetLife has been negotiating a lease on 250,000 square feet in Ballantyne Corporate Park’s new, 10-story Gragg building at the northwest corner of Ballantyne Commons Parkway and North Community House Road.

“North Carolina has much to offer our employees and the company,” Eric Steigerwalt, an executive vice president, said in a statement. “The strong sense of community in Cary and Charlotte, as well as the region’s robust infrastructure and sustainable talent pool were all compelling reasons for coming here.”

It marks the largest jobs announcement for Charlotte since at least 2009, when mortgage processor Zenta said it was expanding and would create about 1,000 jobs, according to the Charlotte Chamber.

MetLife has been looking at properties even as it tries to cut costs. Bloomberg News reported that Chief Executive Officer Steven Kandarian is seeking to cut costs by $600 million.

Last month company spokesman John Calagna said, “We are currently undergoing a review of our real estate footprint, which includes strategies around consolidating and exiting certain locations.”

The company has 90 million customers in over 60 countries. It may be best known for its blimp as well as its use of Snoopy and other Peanuts characters in advertising. MetLife Stadium is home to the NFL’s New York Giants and Jets.

MetLife is the latest coup for the Bissell Co., which, despite the down economy, has continued to build large amounts of speculative office space at its south Charlotte campus.

Bissell executives have said they wanted to stay ahead of the competition and have the space to recruit new, large tenants.

Companies are requiring shorter lead times and don’t want to wait for a building to be developed before moving in.

Large amounts of contiguous space are hard to come by in the Charlotte market. The park’s Gragg building and new, similarly sized Woodward building are the only local properties with 250,000 square feet of available, contiguous space.

New tenants and renewals the park has signed include: The Babcock & Wilcox Co., HVM, health care company Premier Inc., snack maker Lance Inc. and Mitsubishi Nuclear Energy.

SPX Corp. also recently moved into its new 240,000-square-foot headquarters at the park, where it expects to create 180 jobs during the next five years.

Staff writers Andrew Dunn and Kerry Singe contributed.