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Aetna Insurance To Hire 245 In New Albany

After a series of large layoffs in Central Ohio, there's some good employment news. Insurance company Aetna says it's adding 245 jobs at its offices in New Albany. To land the jobs, state and local governments provided a total of $3.5 million in incentives.

In a state where layoffs have become commonplace, the hiring of 245 people is enough to attract Governor Ted Strickland to the formal announcement.

"Good news is welcome news," Strickland said. "I think to say that I am happy this morning is an understatement. I'm very, very, very happy to be here this morning; this is wonderful news."

The new hires will work in what is essentially a call center. The staff there will answer questions from insured individuals and companies.

The state was intricately involved in landing the Aetna agreement. The development department negotiated tax credits and other incentives says state development director Mark Barbash.

"The state provided a job creation tax credit, a workforce grant and what we call a rapid outreach grant," Barbash says. "The state assistance is in the $2.8 million to $2.9 million range. The job tax credit from New Albany had a value of about $600,000." That's a total of about $3.5 million in incentives. Aetna Senior Vice President Frank Cobbin says the availability of a skilled workforce coupled with the incentives package helped finalize the agreement.

"First and foremost the market from the standpoint of the employee base was key," Cobbin says. "We felt confident that we could get the type of people we need to carry us forward. But there's no question about the fact that the partnership and the incentives made it a slam dunk decision when we finally came down to picking the site over several sites we were considering."

Aetna won't receive the tax credit immediately. Instead it's released annually over a seven year period once the company files an annual report. Aetna also must keep the jobs in New Albany for 14 years. Mark Barbash says the development department will track the hiring of employees to ensure that Aetna lives up to its side of the agreement.

"For every single grant and loan and tax credit that we do we have a contract and they report back to us on an annual basis," Barbash says. "So we're very, very close to the performance of the businesses that we give incentives to."

Company officials say salaries for the new positions will range from $25,000 to $85,000 dollars a year.