[caption id="attachment_172454" align="aligncenter" width="1746"]Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki recently hosted a meeting to welcome Farmers of Salem to the city. Left to right, Purzycki poses for a photo with James R. Doherty, Farmers of Salem president and CEO; William A. Dine, Farmers of Salem senior vice president, corporate operations; Kurt Foreman, Delaware Prosperity Partnership president and CEO; and Jeff Flynn, City of Wilmington Office of Economic Development director. | PHOTO COURTESY OF DPP[/caption]
WILMINGTON - Farmers of Salem, a regional mutual insurance company based in Salem County, N.J., will relocate to Wilmington next year, bringing 52 jobs to the city's Central Business District, officials announced Wednesday, Jan. 29.
Five more jobs will be added by the company over the following three years, according to an announcement by Delaware Prosperity Partnership, the state's privately-run economic development agency.
Farmers of Salem plans to invest nearly $5.6 million in the purchase and renovation of an undisclosed, existing office building in downtown Wilmington, officials reported. The company already has identified and is in negotiations for the property it will call home starting in 2021.
The move won't be far for the 169-year-old business, which is currently headquartered in Salem, N.J., about 8 miles south of the Delaware Memorial Bridge. As a mutual insurance company it is owned by its policyholders, not stockholders. Farmers hold's the second highest potential rating, A- Excellent, from A.M. Best Co., an insurance industry ratings agency.
The announcement comes after the state's Council on Development Finance (CDF) approved a request by Farmers for a $287,252 performance grant and a $112,000 capital expenditure grant, both from the Delaware Strategic Fund, at its Jan. 27 meeting. The incentive request was approved in full.
In a statement, James R. Doherty, Farmers president and CEO, said his company was attracted to Delaware because of the state's labor market and favorable cost of doing business.
"Farmers of Salem has evolved from its origins as Farmers Mutual Fire Insurance Company of Salem County across three centuries," he added. "Our move to Wilmington will add a 21st-century sensibility to our nearly 17 decades of service to our policyholders and our ongoing commitment to remaining innovative, competitive and stable within the insurance marketplace."
The New Jersey company's decision to relocate here "shows Delaware's strength as a premier location for the financial services industry," Gov. John Carney said in a prepared statement.
"This investment will support good-paying jobs for Delawareans and their families, and the continued growth of our state's economy. Businesses looking to grow and thrive choose Delaware because we have a lot to offer "“ from a strong and talented workforce, to a central location and excellent quality of life," he added.
Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki said the city was thrilled that the company was now part of its "bright future."
"We look forward to a long and productive relationship as the company settles into a welcoming city that appreciates its corporate neighbors. Wilmington's regional location, access to a varied transportation system and a workforce that can help grow a business are just some of the reasons why businesses choose Wilmington. In addition, our city has other outstanding amenities, including a rich arts and cultural community, some of the finest music, stage and entertainment venues in the region and an ever-expanding array of great places to enjoy excellent food, drink and great company," he said in a statement.