As Business First’s Tracey Drury reported this morning:
The announcement came Friday morning as part of a breakfast held to announce a $25,000 grant to the Buffalo Urban League for its workforce training programs.
According to Business First, The jobs come on top of the 2,400 new jobs created since Geico opened its regional facility in Getzville in 2005.
Seth Ingall, regional vice president, said the company has found a tremendous workforce in the Western New York community, growing from nothing to 2,400 associates in a matter of years.
"That's great news. The only news that's better than that is we're looking to hire 800 people this year, which is the largest number in any given we've ever targeted," he said. "We think we can do it and the truth of the matter is: We'd take 1,000 if Western New York could get them to us. The only thing that holds us back is we're a little choosy on who we select, and we need as many qualified applicants as we can get."
Geico opened its 250,000-square-foot Northeast Operations Center at CrossPoint Business Park in 2005. The new jobs come in response to company-wide growth projections for 2013 of 10 percent, with the Northeast region projected to grow closer to 12.1 percent, Ingall said.
"If the region grows at 12.1 percent , we're going to need a lot of people and we're going to find them here in Western New York," he said.
Ingall also cited the growth in philanthropic and charitable giving from employees and the company, which grew from $100,000 in associate pledges to more than $350,000 last year, a figure matched by the Geico Philanthropic Foundation, resulting in more than $700,000 in giving to Western New York community.
The new jobs will range from sales and customer service to claims and support. Some claims jobs require a college degree, but many of the other jobs do not, said Kirk La, assistant vice president. Salaries will range based on experience and education, but generally start at about $31,000 annually, La said.
Most of the company's current workforce come from the Buffalo area, but the company does draw from the Rochester and surrounding regions as well. The company has also brought in staff from Geico's other regional centers around the country, including Woodbury on Long Island, Lakeland, Fla., and Macon, Ga.
Working with organizations like the Urban League also helps identify potential job applicants. Geico has supported the Urban League nationally for many years.
The grant announced Friday will provide $20,000 for a job training program and another $5,000 for a college scholarship. Brenda McDuffie, president and CEO at the Buffalo Urban League, said Geico has been a great partner since coming to the region. La recently joined the agency's board of directors as well.
"We're tremendously excited about the growth projected by Geico and the contributions you make to the community," she said. "Similarly, the Urban League is committed to building for the future."
Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, who attended the breakfast, said the marriage of the two organizations provides economic opportunities throughout this part of the state. Geico's growth statewide, totaling nearly 5,500 jobs statewide, marks an "incredible" commitment on the part of the company and the governor's office will do its part to help identify 1,000 people for those new jobs, Duffy said.
"In this economic climate, you cannot ask for more than that," he said. "That is big news anywhere across the state. You are hiring smart, energetic young people. Geico has found up here in Western New York a great pool of candidates. You're part of the economic resurgence here in this part of the state."