Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Insurance, Finance Becomes the Engine for Local Job Growth; Jacksonville Leads State in Creation of Financial Services Positions

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Insurance, Finance Becomes the Engine for Local Job Growth; Jacksonville Leads State in Creation of Financial Services Positions

Article excerpt

Byline: David Bauerlein

Jacksonville led the state in creating finance and insurance jobs during 2012, bolstered by hiring at companies that operate nationally and even globally.

The five-county Jacksonville metropolitan area gained 2,000 jobs in finance and insurance between November 2011 and November 2012, according to state job statistics.

In comparison, the Tampa area added 800 jobs in that sector, Miami-Fort Lauderdale gained 900 jobs, and the Orlando area lost 1,500 jobs.

"Finance is doing really well here," said Candace Moody, spokeswoman for WorkSource, a Northeast Florida organization that helps employers find workers.

"We've always had a rich talent pool here for the finance industry," she said. "Now that [hiring] demand is increasing, companies are really taking advantage of the talent pool that's been unemployed for the past few years during the recession."

Jacksonville appears to have reached a "critical mass" for financial services, said Brent Pollina, vice president for Pollina Corporate Real Estate, an Illinois company that helps companies choose sites.

"Then all of a sudden you get a lot more businesses who look at you because they say if my competitors are there, maybe I should be there," he said. "It sounds like Jacksonville has passed that threshold."

Digital Risk, an Orlando-based financial services firm that opened a Jacksonville office in 2010, is in expansion mode. The firm employs around 200 people in Jacksonville and is seeking to double the workforce as it gains more business, said Carl Messina, a senior director for the firm.

The main groups of applicants are people already employed in finance and seeking career advancement, and also people who have been laid off from finance jobs, particularly from larger banks.

"Quite honestly, we've been turning business away," Messina said. "We would be able to grow faster if we could only find the people to bring on board at the pace" of client demand.

During 2012, Citi announced it would be hiring 400 at its office in Mandarin. …

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