TAMPA — The last thing regional economic development leaders want to see is a company as big and important as WellCare Health Plans, the second largest publicly traded company in the bay area by market value, move its headquarters someplace else.
Turns out, that’s the last thing WellCare wants, too.
So on Monday, the managed care services company announced it had renewed its lease and was committing to keep its headquarters in Tampa through 2030.
"When you have a good thing, you stay with it," WellCare CEO Kenneth Burdick said after a news conference outside the company’s offices at 8725 Henderson Road, about three miles north of Tampa International Airport.
"We love you here," said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn (though, technically, WellCare’s corporate campus is outside the city limits). "You are putting Tampa on the map."
Established in 1985 by a small group of local doctors and owned in the 1990s by Dr. Kiran Patel, WellCare leases about 810,000 square feet of space in Tampa for its main corporate campus and three satellite offices.
The company employs nearly 9,000 people nationwide, has annual revenues of $17 billion and has 4.4 million members in its Medicaid, Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans. Its $8.7 billion market capitalization is second only to Raymond James among publicly traded companies based in the Tampa Bay area.
WellCare had a workforce of 1,500 when it moved to the Henderson Road offices in 2004.
Now it has 4,500 employees in the bay area. This is, by far, its largest concentration of employees, many of them working in well-paying jobs as nurses, physicians or information technology professionals.
"For a company of our size with our demographic, we think we would be an attractive headquarters to many cities and many states, but, honestly, we’re so happy here that we did not go through an Amazon-like process of having people bid for us," Burdick said. "We like it here. We have a very fair arrangement with the landlord, so we wanted to re-up and we wanted to extend it, so we could provide an important message of stability and security to our associates and to the community."
WellCare anticipates further local growth, but Burdick said there’s no specific plan.
There were no incentives offered by the state or local government to get WellCare to stay. Burdick said all of the company’s negotiations were with its landlord, Vision Properties/Arena Capital Group. The terms of the company’s rental agreement, beyond it lasting through 2030, were not disclosed.
"There’s a lot of change going on in our business as we grow, and if we can eliminate one variable, which would be changing location for 4,500 people, then let’s do that," he said. "Tampa’s been a very good asset as we try to attract new hires from all over the country."
Contact Richard Danielson at [email protected] or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times