September 12, 2019 (Courtesy: JAX Daily Record)
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced August 28 that two international information technology companies will create a combined 498 jobs in Jacksonville, disclosing the names of Project Quail and Project Liberty.
SoFi, a California-based online personal finance company, has been seeking $1.5 million in state and city incentives through the Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund program as code-named Project Quail to establish its southeastern operations center and create 300 jobs in Jacksonville.
DeSantis also announced SS&C Technologies as Project Liberty. Under that name, the international IT and software company asked for $990,000 in QTI incentives to add 198 jobs to its existing local workforce.
DeSantis made the announcement during the Enterprise Florida board of directors meeting at the Omni Jacksonville Hotel.
The governor linked the Florida expansion of the San Francisco-based companies to a broader shift by technology and financial service firm away from higher taxes, living expenses and housing prices their employees experience in markets like California.
“It’s prohibitively expensive,” DeSantis said. “So to be able to come here to Florida, I think the business gets a better deal because, I think, we have a better climate. But I also think a lot of the employees are going to get a much better deal and a much higher quality of life.”
In an email Wednesday, City Director of Public Affairs Nikki Kimbleton said SS&C has signed the economic development agreement with the city. It awaits Mayor Lenny Curry’s signature.
SoFi has yet to sign and return its agreement to the city.
Kimbleton said a fully executed agreement with SoFi “may be a couple weeks.”
The state’s portions of both deals will be handled in separate documents.
SoFi agreed two weeks ago to lease 37,000 square feet of space at Town Center Two at 5335 Gate Parkway. City Council adopted Resolution 2019-491-A Aug. 13 in support of the incentives.
In a press release following DeSantis’ announcement, Mayor Lenny Curry said SoFi will actively recruit in the Jacksonville area with an initial focus on operations functions including member relations, loan review, quality assurance and fraud prevention. The jobs will support SoFi products like student, personal and home loans, investing tools and cash management accounts.
“Jacksonville’s reputation as a hub for finance and technology continues to grow,” Curry said. “This investment is the latest demonstration of confidence in our region, economy and skilled workforce. SoFi will enhance our community’s growing presence in this all-important sector of our economy.”
SS&C has expanded in the Gramercy Woods office park at 9000 Southside Blvd. into about 107,000 square feet of office space. City officials say the company plans to invest $1.7 million in property improvements, IT and office equipment purchases.
SS&C came to town in July 2015 through acquiring Advent Software Inc.
Both companies sought a tax refund of $5,000 for each job created, with the city accounting for $1,000 and the state paying $4,000.
The Project Liberty summary said the incentives would be a factor in its growth. The Council adopted Resolution 2019-377-A June 11 to support the deal.
In its agreement with the city, SS&C said the expansion will increase its staffing in Jacksonville to 656 employees by Dec. 31, 2021.
The city’s Office of Economic Development says the average salary for the 198 new positions will be $69,000, generating a payroll of about $13.6 million.
The city will be responsible for $198,000, or 20%, of the award, over five years. The state is paying $792,000.
For SoFi, the city’s portion of the QTI refund would be no more than $300,000. The refund from the state would total $1.2 million.
SoFi told city and state officials that the average wage of the 300 jobs will be $54,941 per year plus benefits. SoFi will generate an annual payroll of $16.4 million.
OED officials said SoFi will make a $5.5 million capital investment in Jacksonville including real estate improvements, IT equipment, furniture and fixtures.
Both SS&C and SoFi will have to verify their employment and wage targets with the city and state before receiving the QTI refunds.