The announcement came as a present surprise. While Chase has added thousands of jobs in Delaware in recent years, its most recent statements had predicted smaller job gains forthe state.
The news also comes after a turbulent period at DuPont Co., with growing concerns that the company could cut jobs and further restructure after the departure of CEO Ellen Kullman.
J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. leaders and Governor Jack Markell made the announcement at the newly opened Technology Center near Wilmington. The state will offer a few million dollars a year in financial incentives to seal the deal.
About 1,800 employees have moved from Chase sites downtown and in the Newark area to the new location during the past month.
Bill Wallace, the company’s chief administrative officer for Delaware, praised the work of state officials in providing a good environment for the company.
“This state of the art technology center is a great example of our partnership with the state,” said Wallace. “We are adding 1,800 jobs because Delaware is a great place to do business and a great place to invest in a workforce with the technology and financial skills that our company needs today and in the future. And we appreciate that the state has taken a national leadership position when it comes to developing a skilled workforce.”
Under an agreement with the state agreement, the 1,800 jobs that J.P. Morgan Chase plans to add will represent the largest single company job expansion in Delaware since Astra Zeneca moved its U.S. headquarters to Delaware in 1999.
The Technology Center is based at the former AstraZeneca South Campus. The pharmaceutical giant, facing a sharp drop in revenues, due to the end of patent protection for blockbuster drugs, vacated the campus and put the site on the market.
In coming years, J.P. Morgan Chase would have nearly 10,000 employees in Delaware, making it the state’s second largest private employer and nearly matching the total head count at Christiana Care, the state’s largest private nonprofit employer.
The 10,000 figure also matches total peak employment at credit card bank MBNA, now Bank of America. Bank of America no longer lists employment figures by state, but is believed to have 3,000 fewer employees than the peak figure at MBNA.
JPMorgan Chase also plans to spend between $150 million and $300 million to upgrade its buildings in northern New Castle County.
The decision by the blue chip company represented the biggest economic development coup for the Markell administration, which has been heavily criticized for its involvement in the ill-fated effort by Fisker Automotive plan to renovate the former GM Boxwood plant.
JPMorgan Chase construction projects have also used workers from building trades unions in converting the former AstraZeneca site to a technology center.
A release from the state said the financial sector that added 4,300 new jobs in industry over the last five years, a 10 percent expansion. The new expansion will raise the number of people employed in the sector in Delaware to its highest level in history.
Markell noted that the new jobs coming at JPMorgan Chase are not the call center and other banking jobs of yesteryear. Instead, the technology needs of the company resemble those of a Silicon Valley company, the governor noted.
“We have a financial services and technology workforce that is second to none, and we are thrilled with today’s announcement to bring hundreds of millions of dollars of investment and 1,800 good-paying jobs to our communities,” Markell said.
The Delaware Economic Development Office (DEDO) has agreed to match 3 percent of the firm’s capital expenses, up to $3 million a year for three years. Those funds, which are contingent upon meeting employment obligations, will support updating, enhancing and potentially expanding JPMC’s current facilities, while providing opportunities to construction workers who have been especially impacted by recent economic challenges.
Also the Delaware Transit Corporation (DART) is committing $1 million a year over three years to support enhanced regional transportation options, including more frequent train service between Wilmington and Philadelphia that will benefit employers throughout the region.
Delaware will also provide up to $500,000 a year for three years to support training and complement investments made by J.P. Morgan Chase in its workforce.
That funding follows a workforce training partnership between the state and the financial sector, which has included:
- Launching the Tech Hire initiative highlighted in the Governor’s most recent State of the State address,
- Establishing the ZipCode training program in Wilmington, and
- Expanding the JPMC Innovation Center on the University of Delaware campus, through which more than 60 UD students are working as interns, mostly assisting on technology projects.
“We never could have accomplished this without the support and positive climate that our state, federal, and local officials consistently provide to our industry and, more importantly, to our employees and their families,” said Wallace. “This is especially true when it comes to Delaware’s Economic Development Office, which continues to show forward and positive thinking.”