With Up To $24 Million From The State, CareCentrix Chooses Hartford Over Florida, Adding 300 Jobs
By KENNETH R. GOSSELIN
June 28, 2012
A fast-growing East Hartford-based company that manages patient home health care will move to downtown Hartford, rather than moving to either Florida or Kansas where it also has significant operations — the fifth company to win incentives from the governor's "First Five" program.
CareCentrix will move more than 200 jobs to the 20 Church St. tower in downtown Hartford by the end of the year and add another 300 in the next five years. The company could qualify for up to $24 million in grants for retaining and growing its job base in the capital city.
Thursday's announcement in the lobby of the Hartford building marked the first incentive package among the five to involve a business moving to Hartford.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy got an enviable lead-in earlier in the day, as the U.S. Supreme Court released its decision upholding sweeping health care reform.
"The reality is that more Americans will, in fact, have the kind of coverage that will then [prompt insurers to] turn to companies like CareCentrix that make sure they are provided with the highest level of quality, the highest level of care at the best possible price," Malloy said.
CareCentrix's relocation is the second time in recent years that the state has backed the move of a corporation from East Hartford to a neighboring town; the first was Oakleaf Waste Management, which got a $3 million grant two years ago to help it move to Windsor.
But just as Oakleaf had threatened to move to another state, CareCentrix had actively considered moving its East Hartford headquarters and operations to either Kansas or Florida, Malloy said.
Sen. Gary D. LeBeau, D-East Hartford, said that CareCentrix had outgrown its quarters at Founders Plaza in East Hartford.
"They can't grow if they don't have space to grow," LeBeau said. "The bottom line here is, we're keeping the jobs in the state."
East Hartford Mayor Marcia Leclerc said in a telephone message, "We hate to see them go, but East Hartford is supporting the additional jobs and the growth. ... Quite frankly, 111 Founders Plaza has already signed a lease with a new tenant for that space."
CareCentrix started in 1996 as a division of Gentiva Health Services in New York. In 2008, backed by a private equity firm specializing in health care, the business spun off on its own and moved to East Hartford. Since then, it has grown from 300 to 1,100 employees serving a network of 7,000 home care providers with more than 30 million clients.
The grants would be paid out over five years as the company meets hurdles for increasing its employment base in the city and retaining that growing employment base. If CareCentrix meets the goals, the company would receive approximately $5 million a year.
Eric Reimer, CareCentrix's chief executive, said the company had seriously considered moving its headquarters and call center operations, now in East Hartford, to other states. In an interview, he indicated that there was no bidding war waged among the states, after declining to detail what other states were offering during a press conference.
Among the 800 net new jobs that CareCentrix has added since becoming independent, 700 have been in other states.
"It was always the preference to stay, but the only way that was made possible was through the 'First Five' program," Reimer said, adding that the financial incentives would be used to finance further growth.
The CareCentrix move is a boost for downtown Hartford, which has struggled with high office vacancy rates for several years. The city's tax assessments for office buildings are dropping this year as a result of a property revaluation.
The company also considered space at 242 Trumbull St., a smaller building owned by Northland Investment Corp., a source familiar with the search said Thursday.
The "First Five" program has come under fire from critics who say that it is not certain that the companies who receive financial incentives would have moved out or would not have expanded as they did in Connecticut.
CareCentrix contracts with large providers such as Aetna and Cigna to monitor home health care, including when care in the home is the preferable alternative to more expensive hospital stays. It also recently added a program for doing sleep apnea tests in patients' home rather than in two-night stays at a sleep-test facility. The typical cost of $3,000 can be reduced by as much as 90 percent, Reimer said.
Reimer said the jobs that would be added included call center employees, nurses, clinicians and managers. Call center employees, which would encompass the bulk of the jobs, typically are paid $30,000 to $40,000 a year.
The announcement is the second in a week for Malloy's "First Five" program, which offers state aid to large and mid-size companies adding at least 200 employees. Last week, Malloy announced a state package worth up to $51 million in tax credits, a grant and loan for Alexion Pharmaceuticals to move to New Haven from Cheshire and add between 200 and 300 jobs.
In addition to Alexion, the other "First Five" companies named since last July are Cigna, which moved its world headquarters from Philadelphia to Bloomfield; ESPN, adding a large studio building in Bristol; and NBC Sports, consolidating operations in Stamford.
A fifth firm, TicketNetwork, was part of the program but later pulled out.
Hartford Mayor Pedro E. Segarra said that the addition of more workers downtown will be a boon for local businesses. He said he mentioned the CareCentrix move to the owner of a Pratt Street restaurant where he was eating lunch, just prior to the announcement.
"She immediately rushed over with business cards and brochures about her restaurant," Segarra said.
CareCentrix will occupy two floors, or about 40,000 square feet, in the Church Street tower — and would add more space as the company increases its employment base.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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