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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Oct. 16, 201901:04 PM EST

GuideWell says it will add 750 jobs at Riverside Avenue tower

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Announcement by Florida Blue parent company comes after deal with city for a new parking garage nearby.
by: Mike Mendenhall Staff Writer

GuideWell Inc., the parent company of Florida Blue, announced Wednesday it will add 750 jobs at its Riverside Avenue office Downtown.

The mix of 500 contract and 250 full-time positions will increase the workforce at the 532 Riverside Ave. office to 1,750.

Toni Woods, senior media relations consultant for GuideWell, said the contract jobs are temporary, mostly ending in December. She said the company will begin hiring for them again in March to start in July.

GuideWell made the announcement Wednesday through JAXUSA Partnership, the JAX Chamber’s economic development division.

“We continue to grow here in Jacksonville and wanted to expand our presence at the Riverside tower,” Florida Blue North Florida Market President Darnell Smith said in a news release. “Our Riverside office is centrally located and an attractive career opportunity for potential employees who live north and west of downtown.” 

GuideWell employs more than 6,500 workers in Northeast Florida, with its largest presence at its Deerwood Park campus.

In the news release, Mayor Lenny Curry linked the jobs expansion to a proposed $22.5 million, 869-space parking garage Florida Blue plans to build on city-owned property near the company’s Riverside office.

The city will transfer ownership of the 2.3-acre Magnolia Street parcel, appraised at $3.17 million, to Florida Blue at no cost by Dec. 31. The property is now a retention pond.

Documents filed with the Downtown Design Review Board show construction is expected to begin by Jan. 9 and be completed by Sept. 9, 2020.

The city will also provide Florida Blue a $3.5 million completion grant to build the garage, which will have public parking access after 6 p.m. weeknights and all day on weekends.

 “GuideWell’s continued growth in Jacksonville demonstrates their confidence in our local economy,” Curry said in a statement. “These 750 new jobs and the parking garage will positively contribute to economic activity and I am proud the administration was able to help facilitate this job creation.” 

The garage was awarded preliminary design approval by the DDRB on Thursday, but will have to return for final approval before site work can begin.

The garage also frees Florida Blue’s surface lot at 323 Riverside Ave. for development of a $145 million, 300,000 square foot headquarters for an international company code-named Project Sharp.

Sharp also would bring 500 new jobs to Riverside.

The City Council approved a $29.9 million city and state-backed incentives package Sept. 10 for Sharp, which matches the needs of Jacksonville-based Fortune 500 company Fidelity National Information Services Inc.

That agreement states Sharp will maintain its existing 1,216 jobs in Jacksonville, which mirrors the FIS workforce. Sharp’s new jobs will have an average salary of $85,000.

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