The glossy exterior of the Chase building on Walnut Street in Wilmington shields aging office floors inside built for a bygone era of banking.
Rows of cubicles separating programmers from marketers and technologists from product teams no longer make sense for JPMorgan Chase, said Tom Horne, the company's Delaware market leader.
"They all work together now to design solutions for our customers, so they have to be together," Horne said. "That's the way ideation happens."
As Wilmington's office market faces a slowdown in the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, the city's largest employer is doubling down on its physical presence. JPMorgan Chase is hiring 725 roles at its corporate centers in Wilmington and near Newark. Both facilities in the next three years will undergo multimillion-dollar renovations to introduce collaborative spaces, standing desks, improved lighting and higher-quality technology.
In short time, the inside of JPMorgan Chase will look less like a bank office and more like a tech company.
There will also be more people. About a third of the new roles are in technology, where "the jobs of the future are," Horne said. The others are across all lines of the business, including credit card operations, marketing and product-related jobs.
Horne said Delaware is one of the only places in which all lines of the business and corporate functions have a presence. Wilmington is the headquarters for its credit card operations. The Newark-area site in the Sabre building in Ogletown is focused on investment banking and wealth management. The company also has about 2,000 technology jobs at its Delaware Technology Center off Concord Pike in Fairfax.
With 11,000 total employees, JPMorgan Chase is Delaware's second-largest private employer behind ChristianaCare.
Although some parts of the business can be conducted remotely, JPMorgan Chase is making investments in its physical spaces across the country under the belief in-person collaboration is important to the quality of work they produce.
Horne, who began his career in Delaware with MBNA more than three decades ago and now heads consumer branch banking for JPMorgan Chase, says he's seen the benefits throughout his career.
"If you create an environment where people want to work, you give them a job with purpose and they enjoy coming every day, they do amazing work for you," Horne said.
The company's investment is also a boon for Wilmington, which has seen office vacancy increase since the onset of the pandemic. In recent years, activity in the credit card industry, long the backbone of the city, has more often come from newer technology-focused financial companies such as startup Investor Cash Management and Ally Financial. Marlette Funding's Best Egg moved from downtown to Talleyville.
"It says we are confident in the city of Wilmington and that's infectious," Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki said.
"We know how important our presence is," Allison Beer, CEO of credit card and connected commerce, said as officials discussed efforts to revitalize the Riverfront and Market Street. "We're excited that our people are right here."
Horne acknowledged some employees come to the Wilmington office from Philadelphia and its location near the train station makes it well-suited for commuting. But they see Wilmington as a place on the rise and ripe for continued investment.
JPMorgan Chase officials declined to estimate the total amount they plan to invest in the office upgrades and new jobs. They said it's their second-largest renovation project in the U.S. behind their New York Park Avenue headquarters.
The project also includes a 700-space parking garage behind their existing campus in Wilmington between King and Walnut streets. Twenty-two floors of the Wilmington Corporate Center will be renovated on a rolling basis.
The Newark Corporate Center will have 11 floors renovated. Solar panels will be installed on top of the building and on canopies in the parking lot under which employees can park.
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Contact Brandon Holveck at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @holveck_brandon.
This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: JPMorgan Chase is adding 725 jobs, renovating Delaware offices