March 07--RALEIGH -- The insurance giant MetLife plans to add more than 2,600 high-paying jobs in Cary and Charlotte over the next three years after being awarded a state incentives package worth more than $94 million this morning.
The 2,622 new jobs will be split evenly between Charlotte and Cary and will pay average annual wages of $81,891. MetLife plans to establish a hub for its U.S. retail business in Charlotte and a hub for its global technology and operations unit in Cary.
MetLife expects to invest $125.5 million building campuses in the two locations. Meghan Lantier, a MetLife spokeswoman, said the company has not signed any leases for its new campuses.
The North Carolina hubs are part of a major consolidation effort by MetLife, which Lantier said has more than 30 sites spread around the country with employees from the two business units.
MetLife's decision was hailed by Gov. Pat McCrory at a press conference in downtown Raleigh this afternoon.
"This is a good day for North Carolina," he said.
McCrory said he spoke with MetLife's CEO, Steven A. Kandarian, on Wednesday to welcome him to the state.
"I've already invited him for a round of golf -- one in Cary and one in Charlotte," he said.
The state's Economic Investment Committee approved an incentives package for the company at its meeting in Raleigh this morning. MetLife received a 12-year state Job Development Investment Grant worth as much as $87.2 million if it meets hiring and investment goals. MetLife also must retain the 143 employees it now has in Charlotte.
The company is also receiving millions in training credits and a $2 million grant from the One North Carolina fund.
New York-based MetLife, which has 90 million customers worldwide, also considered St. Louis, Mo., for the project, according to state officials. State officials said the company worked with two firms during its negotiations with the state about an incentives package -- the relocation firm KLG Advisors and the law firm Moore & Van Allen.
McCrory worked for Moore & Van Allen up until shortly before he took office. The governor's office couldn't immediately answer the question whether McCrory had any involvement with recruiting MetLife while working at the firm.
The incentives grant awarded to MetLife is the largest in the history of the JDIG program, which returns to companies a portion of withholding taxes paid by new employees. The largest previous grant made under the program went to Fidelity Investments, which in 2006 was promised $54.6 million to create 2,000 jobs in Research Triangle Park.
Like Boston-based Fidelity, MetLife's decision is the latest example of how companies from the northeast are relocating back-office functions to state's such as North Carolina, where costs are lower and there is a large educated workforce.
"North Carolina has much to offer our employees and the company," said Eric Steigerwalt, an executive vice president with MetLife, 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."
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