Indianapolis-based home lender Stonegate Mortgage Corp. is creating a regional headquarters at Cardinal Point in Clearwater, a move that promises to add 139 jobs to its existing operations here.
The news comes at a time when many mortgage companies have been retrenching, with rising interest rates putting a damper on loan refinancings. SunTrust, Bank of America, Mortgage Investors Corp. and JPMorgan Chase have cut hundreds of lending-related jobs in Tampa Bay over the past year.
Stonegate, however, has been pushing to grow through acquisitions. Founded in 2005, the company went public just last fall and has a market capitalization value of about $390 million.
Stonegate has about 1,000 employees nationally, including 75 in Florida, where it operates both a regional office in Clearwater and a branch in Brandon. It plans to hire the additional 139 employees by the end of 2016 and make a capital investment in Pinellas which will exceed $920,000.
Gov. Rick Scott announced the expansion Thursday morning, pointing to it as evidence that his push to lower taxes and fees is working. "We are continuing to build an opportunity economy in Florida," he said.
Pinellas County and the state approved a tax refund offer to Stonegate of $5,000 for each new Florida job created and verified. The maximum value of the refund is $695,000, assuming Stonegate hires all the proposed jobs at the promised average wage level of $47,500, or 115 percent of the state's average annual wage.
As with similar deals, the state will be responsible for 80 percent of the tax refund and the county will put up the remaining 20 percent.
Gray Swoope, Florida secretary of commerce and CEO of Enterprise Florida, endorsed the incentives.
"The impact of the financial and professional services sector in Florida cannot be overstated," he said in a statement. Stonegate's expansion is "great for our state overall, but especially for professionals in the finance, insurance, and professional fields, which already represent 12 percent of the state's employment."
For more information about job openings, go to stonegatemtg.com and click on careers.