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Jax Daily Record Monday, Mar. 8, 201012:00 PM EST

New operations center could add 175 jobs

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by Karen Brune Mathis

Managing Editor

Digital Risk LLC, a Maitland-based financial services company, is considering Southside Jacksonville for an operations center that would grow to 175 jobs, pending financial incentives from the City and state.

Digital Risk analyzes residential mortgage risks for lenders, investors, government agencies and regulators.

It proposes to staff up within three years at an average wage of $45,564 plus benefits, according to a Jacksonville Economic Development Commission project summary.

The commission is scheduled to review the project, and several more, when it meets at 9 a.m. Wednesday at City Hall in the fourth floor conference room.

Among those is the previously discussed Jacksonville-based Lender Processing Services Inc. project, to add 350 jobs.

Commission Executive Director Ron Barton said the projects reflect the importance of the financial services industry in Jacksonville.

“Here’s an example of two companies that can grow because they are a part of the market that is relatively strong,” he said.

Digital Risk employs 496 people at its Maitland headquarters and in branch offices in New York and Dallas, according to the summary. It also is considering Dallas for the operations center.

Digital Risk requests a Qualified Targeted Industry tax refund of $525,000, based on $3,000 for each job. The City would refund $105,000, which is 20 percent of the total, and the state would pick up the remaining 80 percent, $420,000.

The refund would be paid annually over four to six years as the company creates the jobs and pays its city and state taxes.

Digital Risk initially would use space within the Mortgage-Flex Systems Inc. offices at 10151 Deerwood Park Blvd., near Butler and Southside boulevards, as it identifies a 50,000 square-foot center to lease.

“They have not expressed that they have a specific place in mind,” Barton said.

The summary also shows that the company plans to invest up to $500,000 in machinery, equipment, furniture and improvements.

Pending the commission’s approval, City Council and the state Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development will review the project.

The commission also is scheduled to review two more requests.

• North Florida Shipyards Inc. wants to borrow $4 million from the City’s allocation of the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act bonds to finance an expansion. The shipyard wants to expand its 2060 E. Adams St. facility at Commodores Point near the city’s sports complex. The shipyard proposes to add a hoist to lift vessels up to 600 tons, construct a basin in the St. Johns River to accommodate the vessels and complete related improvements. The total project cost is expected at $7.6 million, funded also by a federal grant and corporate investment. The shipyard projects 246 new jobs within the first four years of operation at an average wage of $39,900.

• The commission will consider introducing legislation to Council to modify mortgage agreements on two Vestcor apartment buildings Downtown. VCP-Lynch Building Ltd. owns the 11E building and VCP-Roosevelt Building Ltd. owns The Carling. Because of a drop in occupancy during the recession, Vestcor requests mortgage relief. Among other assistance, the commission proposes the City suspend the current monthly principal payments on the two buildings for three years, with monthly interest payments only.

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