After years of trying, the state finally has enticed a big insurance company to move some of its operations to Utah.
Esurance, a subsidiary of Allstate Corp.,will open a customer-service office in Weber County that is expected to create 700 new jobs in the next 20 years. Hiring will begin immediately for the positions, which primarily involve answering customers' telephone and online questions about insurance policies.
The Illinois-based company's operation will be based at Business Depot Ogden, a former military installation that has been converted into an 1,100-acre business park. It is a division of The Boyer Co.
Esurance was lured, in part, by a financial incentive approved Thursday by the Governor's Office of Economic Development (GOED) board.
GOED will provide post-performance tax credits of up to $5.8 million to the company, which is about 25 percent of the net taxes Esurance is likely to pay during the agreement's 20-year life.
State taxes generated by the company over that period are projected to be $23 million. Esurance is looking to invest $15 million in developing the operation, which could pay out $610 million in new wages.
"All of the incented jobs will pay at least 125 percent of Weber County's average annual wage, including benefits," said GOED spokesman Michael Sullivan.
In a prepared statement, Esurance President and CEO Gary Tolman said "Weber County has a talented workforce that will help us to continue to provide a seamless experience for Esurance customers as we expand."
Founded in 1999, Esurance has 3,000 "associates" around the country.
Landing this company is important to state efforts to diversify its financial-services sector, said Jeff Edwards, president of the Economic Development Corp. of Utah (EDCU), a nonprofit organization that works closely with GOED to recruit companies to move into Utah or to persuade existing firms to expand their operations.
"This is a big deal for us," he said. "We have a lot of strengths in financial services, with banks and Goldman Sachs, but we've never been able to crack the nut with insurance companies."
Esurance is attractive because Allstate is a well-established, global brand with an excellent reputation, Edwards said. Employees hired by the company also will develop workforce skills beneficial to the state's whole financial-services sector, he added.
Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell said his city might not have been considered for this project 10 years ago. But the development of Business Depot Ogden has provided "great energy. This adds to that and keeps us competitive and nimble."
And with Esurance hiring immediately, he predicted the company will get "the cream of the crop" among applicants from the Ogden area.
Information about jobs and upcoming Esurance career fairs is available at http://www.esurance.com/about/jobs.