“Deutsche Bankers Warm Up to Florida,” says the headline on Page C-1 in the “Money & Investing” section.
The story, datelined Jacksonville, carries the secondary headline: “In A Shift South, Staff Are Trading Subways For Surfboards … Plus All That Parking.”
JAXUSA Partnership President Jerry Mallot, who read the story just before 7:30 a.m., called it “fantastic.”
David DeCamp, Mayor Alvin Brown’s communications director, issued a statement that “Mayor Brown is always happy when others see and enjoy Jacksonville.”
And, if the headlines weren’t enough to validate the city’s economic-development proclamations to prospects, there’s a photo of the lake view from the Deutsche Bank campus in Meridian Business Park in South Jacksonville with the cutline: “It Ain’t The ‘A’ Train: Sun-kissed fountains beckon Deutsche Bank employees at the German giant’s expanding Jacksonville, Fla., campus.”
And those are just the headlines and cutline.
Within the story was the inference that there could be more Jacksonville jobs on the way.
Deutsche Back came to town in 2008 with an initial 100 jobs and a pledge of 1,000.
Recently, the city and state partnered to provide about $2 million in incentives to add another 300 jobs, which would increase the workforce to more than 1,600 area financial-services employees by the end of 2016.
Deutsche Bank, based in Germany with U.S. operations focused in New York, has been outsourcing back-office Wall Street jobs for years, said the Journal report, and is moving bankers and traders to “near-shore” locations like Jacksonville.
“We are moving out, and Jacksonville is the approach we’ve taken in the U.S.,” said Chief Financial Officer Stefan Krause to the Journal.
Krause said locations like Jacksonville and Birmingham, England, are 30 percent cheaper than in New York or London.
Even more telling: Krause said about 8,000 jobs will eventually be involved in such efforts.
Mallot declined to say how Jacksonville fits into those plans or comment on speculation that Deutsche Bank is trying to determine how to handle its expansion.
Deutsche Bank has expanded into most of the Meridian park and into another nearby office building. There’s speculation about how it will proceed to grow – leasing, building or both.
“I can’t comment about plans,” Mallot said.
However, he knows the Journal report’s value in his economic-development efforts at the JAX Chamber.
“There is an important shift in the financial industry from very high cost areas and fortunately Jacksonville is a major recipient of that for Deutsche Bank and other companies as well,” he said.
Mallot said the report will affect other corporate decision-makers.
“Deutsche Bank is an important leader and it certainly will help others evaluate their options, and hopefully we will be a part of those evaluations,” he said.
Mallot said that since Deutsche Bank’s initial commitment, the chamber continues to work with the company for more “opportunities to grow here in Jacksonville.”
DeCamp said Brown and City Council worked closely with Deutsche Bank to supports its investment and job expansion here.
“We’re looking forward to even more recognition, investment and job growth as more companies see what Jacksonville offers,” DeCamp said.
Mallot said he was aware the story would be published this week and that the Journal had interviewed Jacksonville Deutsche Bank investment banker Michael Drexler.
The report summarizes many of Jacksonville’s economic-development promises, especially lifestyle, weather and convenient parking.
Wall Street Journal reporter Laura Stevens quotes Drexler, whose comments were similar to his presentation in January to the Association for Corporate Growth’s North Florida Chapter.
Then, he said Deutsche Bank in 2010 moved 10 investment traders to Jacksonville and the move worked out so well that there were 220 investment bankers there in January and that number “should double in the next 18 months.”
Drexler said Jacksonville was attractive because Florida does not impose a state income tax, it is a two-hour flight to New York and offers a quality of life.
“I’ve been here 18 months. I think from a business perspective the advantages of Jacksonville are quite profound,” he said.
Drexler said the Deutsche Bank investment bankers like the quality of life in a more open setting.
“I like to be able to drive where I want and park in front,” he said.
The Journal said Drexler lives a 15-minute commute away in Atlantic Beach, surfs about once a week and enjoys a cost-of-living about 40 percent of that in New York.
Jacksonville economic-development recruiters woke up this morning to what must be considered a dream story in the Wall Street Journal.