MetLife was officially welcomed to Charlotte this week, as representatives with the insurance giant mingled with local and state leaders Thursday, March 27, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Ballantyne.
MetLife, which started operating out of the Ballantyne Corporate Park’s Gragg and Woodward buildings a few months ago, relocated its U.S. retail headquarters to Charlotte last year. The office will house some 1,300 employees, MetLife officials have said, once all positions are filled by 2015. The company already has filled 900 of those positions, 700 being local new hires, said Eric Steigerwalt, executive vice president of U.S. Retail, MetLife.
Those positions also brought in more than 77,000 applications so far – a number Steigerwalt was happy to see.
MetLife chose Charlotte for its “great talent, great partners and great community,” Steigerwalt said, adding the support from local and state leaders, the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce and Smoky Bissell of Bissell Companies made the transition smooth. The new headquarters brings together employees from nearly 25 MetLife retail locations nationwide to help create a more collaborative structure, leaders said. MetLife’s retail business accounts for 40 percent of the company’s profits.
“This is the best of Charlotte, the best of North Carolina, a great company and more than anything else, more than 1,200 new jobs to North Carolina and Charlotte,” North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, a former Charlotte mayor, said at the opening celebration. “This has been a team effort. May God continue to bless this great city and this great state.”
MetLife’s attempted acclimation to its new buildings has forced Bissell Companies leaders, which manage the corporate park, to rethink how they build speculative office space. Part of the Gragg and Woodward buildings had to be remodeled from what Bissell Companies contractors had provided to accommodate MetLife’s unique workspace design.
Now, MetLife’s Charlotte space includes 88 conference rooms, nine training rooms, seven nursing rooms, a telepresence room, a coffee bar and a full-service cafeteria. The buildings also include open-seating floors and different spaces for a variety of work styles. Each floor includes MetLife Clubs, or collaboration areas, and digital print artwork by Tom Everhart, the only artist authorized by Charles Schulz, exists throughout the facility featuring Peanuts.
Mayor Pro Tem Michael Barnes attended in place of Patrick Cannon, who was arrested and resigned as Charlotte mayor on Wednesday, March 26.