Closure Of Second Southington Office Of The Hartford Will Shift 600 More Workers
KENNETH R. GOSSELIN
October 07, 2009
The Hartford, ramping up the consolidation of its workforce in Connecticut as it cuts costs, will now close a second location in Southington, relocating a total of 1,100 workers to offices closer to the company's Hartford headquarters.
The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. confirmed Tuesday that it will move an additional 600 employees at 200 Executive Blvd. in the spring — the majority relocating to the insurer's campus in Simsbury.
In May, The Hartford said that it would close its office at 100 Executive Blvd. in Southington, moving about 500 employees to space in Hartford, Simsbury and Farmington. That move also is expected to be completed in the spring.
After the departure of the 1,100 people, Southington will have about 900 company employees. A company spokesman said that the second Southington closing was unrelated to the arrival last week of Liam E. McGee as chairman and CEO of The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc.
Rather, said spokesman Thomas Hambrick, the decision to close the second facility in Southington came about because "we had an opportunity to exit the property, allowing us to make the best use of our current facilities and reduce expenses."
Two months ago, The Hartford expanded its target of cost cuts from $250 million to $400 million.
By the end of this year, The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. expects to eliminate 2,800 positions, or 9 percent of the global workforce it had at the start of the year. As of June, the company said that it had laid off 1,100 workers worldwide, including 475 in Connecticut. The company has not provided updated figures since then.
Although the consolidation affecting Southington isn't expected to result in layoffs, it could add another hour and a half of round-trip commuting time for those who live south of Southington.
Officials in Southington said Tuesday that they were disappointed by The Hartford's decision to relocate another 600 employees out of town. That would magnify the effect on restaurants, gas stations and other local services that depend on the business of those employees, they said.
But they praised the company as a "very good corporate citizen" and hoped that they would retain the third location.
"We lose some economic punch, and we will certainly miss that," said John Weichsel, Southington's town manager. "But we have gone through the loss of a big entity before, Pratt & Whitney, and we have still done well."
Hambrick declined to discuss the details of the company's decision to leave the second location before its lease expires. The leases at all three Southington locations run through 2012.
The 2,000 company employees in Southington work in various functions in The Hartford's home and auto businesses, including its business selling policies to AARP members. The remaining 900 are mostly employed in sales and customer service.
Finding new tenants for the buildings could be tough in an economy that is only slowly recovering by some measures and in which employers are still shedding jobs. Economists say that Connecticut could lose another 20,000 to 30,000 jobs through 2010 before employment losses bottom out.
Together, the buildings encompass about 225,000 square feet, including 150,000 square feet at 200 Executive Blvd.
Because there are few large blocks of space available in that area of the state, it could make it attractive to a large tenant, said Larry Levere, a broker at Sentry Commercial Real Estate Services in Hartford.
"The problem," Levere said, "is there are not a lot of 150,000 [square foot] requirements kicking around the market that I'm aware of."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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