Rocket Mortgage eyes 700-job enlargement in downtown Cleveland

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Rocket mortgageThe mortgage giant formerly known as Quicken Loans is planning an expansion that will create 700 new jobs in downtown Cleveland over the next five years.

The Detroit-based company already employs nearly 700 people in its Cleveland office, a mortgage banking center in the Higbee building right on the public square. Local business development officials have been working on an incentive package to double that workforce to create more than $ 50 million in additional payrolls and welcome investments into a central business district grappling with the aftermath of the pandemic.

Rocket’s top HR manager recently confirmed the broad lines of the company’s growth plans in an interview.

“This is a testament to our commitment to Cleveland,” said Mike Malloy, whose official title is Chief Amazement Officer.

He said Rocket routinely weighs adding jobs in Cleveland against hiring in his hometown, building a mortgage banking center in Phoenix, and recruiting remote workers. Cleveland now has more victories through a “partnership” with the city.

“The core of … a city’s growth is well-paying jobs that give its citizens a chance to succeed,” Malloy said. “And the city of Cleveland and the state of Ohio are very committed to it.”

The first part of the incentive proposal will be released on Wednesday, January 20, in the form of bills introduced by Cleveland City Council. The deal is also contingent on potential state and state aid Jobs Ohio, the nationwide private, non-profit business development company.

Nobody involved in the negotiations would discuss the package in detail. The city did not make anyone available for an interview about the project and was unable to provide Crain’s with a prepared statement in time.

Includes Cleveland’s Toolbox for Economic Development Job creation grantsThis usually corresponds to 0.5% of the new pay slip. The city recently offered Based in Brecksville CrossCountry Mortgage one such grant with a term of five years for the planned relocation of the company’s headquarters to the eastern edge of downtown.

Kevin Kelley, President of the Council, said it was premature to discuss missile legislation. But he had a lot to say about the prospect of getting hundreds of jobs.

“I am very encouraged. I am very excited. … This is the news we need during a pandemic and a recession to help us recover,” he said.

JobsOhio spokesman Matt Englehart confirmed talks with the company are ongoing. Any support, he said, “will be released after a final agreement is reached.”

Malloy said Rocket has room for growth in the Higbee building, which the company has rented since 2016. In addition to the company’s current floor space, the former department store, which now houses a casino and offices, has 110,000 square meters of space.

The property is controlled by Jack Entertainment, a spin-off of the Rock Ventures family of companies from Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert – a group of companies that includes the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Talks about expanding Rocket began almost a year ago with a conversation between Len Komoroski, CEO of Cavaliers, and a senior executive at Greater Cleveland Partnership. The discussions didn’t stop even as the pandemic sent home thousands of office workers, including most of the employees in the lender’s downtown area. And negotiations continued after Rocket Cos., The parent company, went public in August.

Deb Janik, senior vice president of growth and development at GCP, said she viewed the project as much more than a one-off transaction.

“It’s the relationship, the ongoing relationship with the company that allows us to move forward – and hopefully keep the growth going for a long, long time,” she said.

Rocket Cos. Has more than 22,000 employees nationwide, the vast majority in Detroit. The flagship mortgage business, which phased out the Quicken Loans name, closed a record $ 89 billion loan in the third quarter. Cleveland bankers handle transactions across the country.

“The kind of jobs we can get are well-paying jobs that are above the average wage for Cuyahoga County – especially for mortgage bankers,” said Ed Chatmon, GCP vice president, corporate growth and development. “So it is also an opportunity to educate yourself and maybe attract workers or hire residents in the local communities.”

Entering into an expansion deal with the nation’s largest mortgage lender should help Northeast Ohio attract other growing businesses, said Walt Good, executive director of projects for Team NEO, a non-profit business development group that acts as the regional subsidiary of JobsOhio.

“I don’t want to be exaggerating,” Good said, “but this is huge. Huge and very exciting. And I think the impact on the split will be very palpable too.”

For downtown Cleveland, Rocket’s hiring frenzy would be one of its biggest wins since late 2011, when New York-based insurer AmTrust Financial Services Inc. revealed its hopes of adding 1,000 jobs to the troubled financial district.

Coupled with the Sherwin-Williams Co.’s plans to build new headquarters west of the public square in durable parking lots, the potential Rocket project shows that large employers still recognize the value of an office environment and a downtown address, said Joe Marinucci, president and CEO of the nonprofit Downtown Cleveland Alliance.

“They have big companies investing in the city,” he said, “and that’s a great signal that we can use and build on.”