A local developer has sealed a deal to keep Geico’s regional office in Tucson, expanding into new space and adding 700 jobs in the process.
The Bourn Companies plans to develop and build a 200,000-square-foot building on 20 acres at The Bridges, near 36th Street and Kino Parkway for the national insurer — one of Tucson’s largest employers with 2,100 workers.
“They were weighing the decision to potentially leave Tucson,” Mayor Jonathan Rothschild said. “Ultimately we were able to persuade Geico that The Bridges site would be an excellent location for them.”
The Bridges is comprised of the retail center, Tucson Marketplace and the University of Arizona Tech Park.
Bourn further plans to develop more office space, multifamily units and a community park on an additional 95 acres.
“We’re big believers in The Bridges’ location, and it’s an opportunity to serve companies like that in the future,” Don Bourn said.
Geico will be the first corporate employer in the development and will consolidate its employees in the new office. It plans to add 700 positions over the next few years.
Positions will be a mix of entry-level and management positions, but specifics were not available as the facility won’t be complete until mid-2019, at the earliest, officials said.
Geico’s Tucson office opened in 2003 and is currently in a three-building cluster at 930, 940 and 950 N. Finance Center Drive, near Speedway and Kolb Road.
The company is eligible for the city’s Primary Jobs Incentive Program, which allows job-producing businesses to qualify for building-fee exemptions.
Mike Czechowski, the city’s annexation manager, said criteria for the program are the creation of at least 25 jobs that pay $52,400 or more and a salary for the remaining jobs at $45,600.
He said when companies add a significant number of jobs, they may still qualify for the program even if some of the employees make less in entry-level positions.
“In that case, it would be taken to mayor and council to be decided on a case-by-case basis,” Czechowski said.
It was nearly two years ago that Bourn became aware that Geico wanted to expand its Tucson operation, but couldn’t find the right space.
He consulted with city leaders.
“That private-sector leadership is critical,” Rothschild said. “People somehow think that government will go out and create jobs and bring companies here, but government can only facilitate.”
He said the promotion of Tucson by brokers and business leaders is a significant tool in economic development.
“Don could have gone to Geico and said, ‘Hey, there’s space in another city,’ but he lives here and is committed to Tucson,” Rothschild said.
Joe Snell, CEO of Sun Corridor Inc., echoed the mayor’s sentiment and said with Bourn’s commitment to build some speculative office space, The Bridges should become a magnet for other corporate sites.
The lack of available space is a result of 24 months of good news and absorption of office space, Snell said.
“Currently, 50 percent of our pipeline is build-to-suit because we don’t have the existing space out there,” he said. “This is dangerous because a lot of these companies want to move within 14 months.”
Snell said he was thankful for the patience of Geico’s local CEO, Martha Furnas, and her team while a site was identified.
“I’m thrilled to see this happen,” he said. “It would have been a real blow to lose Geico.”
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