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MetLife to add 430 jobs at expanded Tampa campus

By Richard Danielson
MetLife's Highwoods Preserve campus in New Tampa.

TAMPA — MetLife plans to add 430 new jobs and spend $25 million upgrading its existing campus in New Tampa, the nonprofit Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. announced Friday.

The company has committed to hire for a range of new positions that will pay an average of at least $74,561 a year, according to city and county records. That’s 150 percent of Hillsborough County’s average private sector wage.

MetLife, whose arrival in the 1970s raised Tampa’s national profile as a potential landing spot for corporate expansions and relocations, already has more than 1,500 employees in Tampa.

The company will be expanding its campus on Cranes Nest Drive in the Highwoods Preserve business park, said Tony R. Varnon, the company’s vice president for global communications. Most of the positions to be created will be in MetLife’s global technology and operations organization.

The state of Florida, Hillsborough County and Tampa agreed to provide a total of $2.58 million in tax refunds to facilitate MetLife’s plans.

Of that, 80 percent, or $2.064 million, will come from the state. The city and county will each contribute $258,000. Before Hillsborough County commissioners voted to approve the incentive package on Oct. 4, their staff told them the company had alternative sites available in other states and had made receiving the incentives "a condition for further consideration of locating its expansion" in Hillsborough.

The incentives are scheduled to be paid beginning in 2019 and ending in 2025, according to county records. The money won’t be paid until "after the jobs have been created" and "the people have been hired at the wages that were promised," EDC spokeswoman Michelle Bauer said.

MetLife senior vice president of Global Corporate Services Timothy O’Brien on Friday thanked the EDC, Enterprise Florida, Hillsborough County and the city of Tampa for their partnership with the company on its plans.

"MetLife is pleased to be deepening its relationship in the city of Tampa, and we are confident that the wide array of resources and talent that the state of Florida affords will contribute significantly to our ongoing success," he said in a statement.

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MetLife is on a growing list of multinational companies that have expanded or recently established major operations in Tampa or Hillsborough County including Amgen, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Johnson & Johnson, Ashley Furniture Industries, TransferWise and Willis Towers Watson.

Those investments have taken place "because this community offers all the necessary ingredients their global operations require to thrive," said Dr. Alan F. List, the EDC’s chairman president and CEO of Moffitt Cancer Center.

Nearly one in four business and information services firms in Florida have a presence in the Tampa Bay area, according to the EDC.

Contact Richard Danielson at [email protected] or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times