JPMorgan Chase to invest in Delaware site upgrades
WILMINGTON – In a sign of confidence in the First State and a bid to bring more workers back to the office in a post-COVID era, JPMorgan Chase announced Monday that it was investing “hundreds of millions of dollars” in major upgrades to several of its Delaware offices.
The $410 billion, multinational bank is Delaware’s second largest private employer behind only ChristianaCare, employing more than 11,000 workers at sites in downtown Wilmington, the Fairfax suburbs and in Stanton. Chase will soon begin the largest real estate and renovation project currently active in its portfolio, and second only to its investment in its new New York City headquarters. It reportedly began the investments in 2019, but they were paused during the COVID-19 pandemic.
At a Monday groundbreaking in the city, elected officials and bank leaders touted the investment and its pledge to fill about 725 open positions within its ranks.
“We know how important our presence is here in Wilmington and in the state’s economic ecosystem – its restaurants, its businesses, and its people. We’re doubling down on that commitment to Wilmington and to the state,” said Allison Beer, CEO of Chase’s Card and Connected Commerce businesses, which have a major presence in the city.
The investments, for which the bank declined to estimate a cost but Beer said would reach the nine-figures, will fund renovations of 22 floors at the Wilmington Corporate Center high-rise off North Walnut Street in the city and 11 floors of the Newark Corporate Center off Stanton Christiana Road in the next three years. The renovations will impact about 8,000 employees in the state, modernizing offices with new lighting, standardized sit-stand workstations with dual monitors, grab-and-go snack pantries, and meeting spaces that emphasize collaboration with technological upgrades.
Chase’s Delaware operations are unique because it includes all business segments, including consumer banking, credit operations, wealth and asset management, commercial and investment banking, and corporate functions.
The banking titan was among the U.S. corporate leaders in a return-to-office mentality, heralded by bank CEO Jamie Dimon, and the Delaware renovations will encourage that as well.
Chase Delaware Market Leader Tom Horne said that more than half of the bank’s workforce reports into the office every weekday, while an estimated 10% of tech and call center workers have moved fully remote. The other workers are splitting their time between home and office, but bank leaders believe in-person collaboration is essential, especially when including disparate pieces like technology, business and marketing segments.
“The workspace that we’re creating matters. We’ll have all those disciplines sitting around a table and saying, ‘What should we do next in the mobile app?’ And they can scratch it out on a board and discuss the issue,” he said.
The roughly 725 open positions, which Horne said is typical for Chase’s sprawling in-state footprint, includes about 200 technology positions, including software engineers, user interface and experience designers, Agile product specialists, and more. The bank draws from local tech training programs like Zip Code Wilmington and Tech Impact, but is also increasingly drawing out-of-state workers to Wilmington with access to the nearby Amtrak and SEPTA rail stations.
Horne said the bank was confident in the state’s and city’s ability to continue bolstering the ranks of tech and financial services workers, although Chase was investing in workforce development programs to bolster that pipeline and help fill open roles.
“I think everybody has to double down and step on the gas a little bit around how we ensure we have that sustainable technology talent pipeline,” he said. “That’s why we’re investing here and promoting Wilmington as a great place to work and live.”
U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.), a longtime Wilmingtonian, commended Chase for making such an expansive investment in the city, noting that the jobs and offices would benefit others outside of the bank.
“That investment ripples not just to JPMorgan Chase, but it ripples to the dry cleaners, it ripples to the restaurants, it ripples to the train station. It has a ripple effect on our economy here in Delaware,” she said.
Mayor Mike Purzycki agreed, adding, “What you’re doing here today is injecting more than just economic development. You’re injecting an enormous sense of confidence in the investing public in Wilmington.”
In addition to the site upgrades, Chase is also investing in two other projects: a new 700-space parking garage neighboring the Wilmington Corporate Center and a new 4.5-megawatt solar array in Newark, placed upon canopies over the parking lots as well as the building rooftops.
The garage is already under construction at the corner of 2nd and King streets and will allow Chase to bring its employees, who currently park at a handful of garages in the area, closer to campus. Replacing a ground lot acquired by Chase for $6.5 million back in 2015, the garage will utilize cutting-edge green technology, including using a low-carbon material called Pozzotive made from ground-up recycled glass bottles and concrete. The material will reduce the structure’s carbon footprint by about 15%, while making it stronger and more durable.
Meanwhile, the solar array, targeted to break ground in 2024, will supply about 20% of the Newark Corporate Center campus’s current electric load.
The multi-pronged investment by Chase was expected to support about 300 construction and union jobs over the next few years, a fact that was heralded by Jim Maravelias, the president of the Delaware AFL-CIO. He noted that Chase has long-supported union labor and community workforce agreements on its projects, and it would again on the parking garage and renovations.
“With all these millions of dollars that they’re spending, they’re putting our men and women to work and opening up apprenticeships and best value and minority participation … That’s what JPMorgan is about,” he said.
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