MetLife cites 3 reasons for coming to area

During the ribbon-cutting ceremony of their new Ballantyne location, MetLife officials said the New York-based insurance company came to Charlotte for three reasons: great workers, great partnerships with government and a great community.

“Charlotte has a high quality of life and a low cost of living that our employees and their families can benefit from,” said Eric Steigerwalt, MetLife’s executive vice president for U.S. retail.

MetLife celebrated its new U.S. retail headquarters, at 11225 N. Community House Road, on March 27.

N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory, Mayor Pro Tem Michael Barnes, Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners Chairman Trevor Fuller and various MetLife executives were among those in attendance.

“We want you to succeed; we want you to grow more jobs, and we want you to make money” and then reinvest that money locally, said McCrory during his brief comments. “Just remember that this is a long-term relationship, and a relationship that will always grow.”

To lure MetLife to the city, Charlotte and Mecklenburg County have approved roughly $3 million in incentives. Under its state incentives, the company could receive benefits of up to $87.2 million over 12 years.

MetLife, which is occupying two buildings in Ballantyne Corporate Park, began moving in and hiring for the retail hub last year.

The company has said putting its retail business in one location would create more collaboration within the division. Employees had previously been spread across the country.

State incentives require the company to create at least 2,098 jobs in North Carolina by Dec. 31, 2015.

Steigerwalt said the company had received 77,000 job applications for the approximately 1,300 positions it plans to create in Charlotte.

He added that the company has filled more than 900 jobs in Ballantyne, of which approximately 700 have gone to local residents. The company has said the Charlotte jobs will pay an average of $58,000 a year.

“This is incredible news,” said Steigerwalt of the company being ahead of its hiring schedule. “The talent has been spectacular.”

The new Ballantyne location features an open floor plan to encourage more collaboration. The break rooms around the building are all network wired so “you can work anywhere in the building, from a technology perspective,” said Matt Redd, global director of projects for MetLife.

The building also features a coffee bar and a full-service cafeteria.

Throughout the building, employees will see art inspired by the comic strip, “Peanuts.” Tom Everhart, the only artist authorized by the comic’s creator, Charles Schulz, to use “Peanuts” subject matter, created the murals.

Walls throughout the building even encourage employees to write what’s on their mind, with markers included.

And downstairs in the lobby of the Gragg Building, employees can use a large touch-screen to check on flights, weather and even what conference rooms in the building are in use.

Barnes said he’s happy to have MetLife as a new company in the city.

“Thank you all for what you’re doing,” Barnes said to MetLife executives. “There are a lot of people who really need it and appreciate it. And I appreciate it.”