EverBank Financial Corp. Chairman and CEO Rob Clements said Wednesday he wants other Jacksonville businesses to follow his lead and move employees Downtown.
EverBank indeed is highly visible on the Downtown Northbank, where its name dots the riverfront from EverBank Plaza in Riverside to EverBank Center in the city core to EverBank Field, home of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“We strongly believe that a vibrant, vital Downtown is absolutely essential to the success of any city,” he told almost 500 executives attending a meeting at the Hyatt of the JAXUSA Partnership, JAX Chamber’s economic-development arm.
Clements said he hopes Jacksonville-based EverBank’s move is seen as “a big vote of confidence” in Downtown.
However, the relocation of more than 1,000 workers from the Southside suburbs wasn’t easy.
“Many of our employees were at first apprehensive about relocating to Downtown,” he said. “They had concerns about parking; traffic; difficulty getting in and out of Downtown; and safety.”
Clements said the company addressed those concerns.
“We’ve found solutions for convenient and affordable parking; our associates tell us that getting in and out of Downtown is easy; traffic is no problem; and safety isn’t a major concern,” he said.
In 2012, the company moved 1,600 workers from the suburbs to the 30-story AT&T Tower, renamed EverBank Center.
Clements said EverBank has been able to provide after-hours security using the Downtown Ambassadors and EverBank’s staff “to help supplement any concerns.”
Clements said the move necessitated work with Mayor Alvin Brown, City Council and the state, which agreed to offer EverBank $5.15 million in incentives to move 1,000 jobs Downtown and create 200 more.
He said EverBank Center was “perfect for our needs.”
“Our associates tell us they love being Downtown,” he said.
Employees say they like being able to walk from the building to shops and restaurants, which they couldn’t do in the suburbs, and they like being near the river and cultural attractions.
“We hope that our being Downtown will be a catalyst for more retail and dining,” Clements said.
EverBank recently sold part of its mortgage servicing business to Green Tree Servicing LLC.
Green Tree agreed to hire 500 EverBank associates, who became Green Tree employees in May and work in EverBank Center. “The company is committed to remaining in Downtown Jacksonville,” he said.
Clements said EverBank now has more than 1,550 employees Downtown among the center and plaza buildings.
One continued investment could be the sponsorship renewal at EverBank Field.
“Having our name on the stadium certainly has lifted our public profile, not just here in Florida but across the country,” he said.
He looks forward to greater nationwide visibility resulting from the Jaguars being featured in more nationally televised games at EverBank Field, “including the playoffs.”