An 1,800-job project

ADP’s Norfolk center represents the biggest deal in decades

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ADP has renovated a 288,000-square-foot building in downtown
Norfolk for its new facility. Photo by Mark Rhodes

New Jersey-based human resources firm ADP had specific requirements in mind in seeking a location for a new customer service center.

“This is something that is taken very seriously by the company,” Nick Maniaci, ADP’s division vice president, says of the search process it started over a year ago. “We want to make sure the locations we select meet the very special criteria we have, such as a presence of veterans, a favorable business climate and diversity of employees.”

Employees at these ADP facilities help recruit customers and provide support to existing customers. “That is why it’s important that we had the right kinds of employees to work with our clients,” Maniaci says.

The company did its due diligence, checking demographics, the presence of education institutions and area amenities at each potential site.  “Once we processed this information we came up with a short list of locations that we felt were the strongest based on our criteria,” Maniaci says. 

ADP scouted four or five locations, primarily on the East Coast. “We whittled that down to three places,” Maniaci says. “Hands down, Norfolk was the place to build our center.”

The company actually considered Chesapeake and Norfolk. “We had a building that fit ADP’s need,” says Chuck Rigney, director of Norfolk’s development department. “It was a strong signal that Norfolk was doing good work making downtown an attractive place to be.”

ADP is investing $32.25 million in establishing its new facility in a 288,000-square-foot building at 2 Commercial Place in downtown Norfolk. The project will create 1,800 jobs. “This is the largest single job announcement in the region since the early 1990s and the largest job announcement in Norfolk by a private company in recent history,” Rigney says.

The company received a $5 million state grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund, an amount that was matched by the city. ADP also is eligible for a Major Business Facility Job Tax Credit from the state along with funding and services through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program for employee training.  

“This was a real team effort,” says Rigney of the cooperation the city received from businesses and local and state officials in landing the deal. “It’s a good example of how good projects and close cooperation can result in good things.”

The company liked Norfolk because of its talent pool, its local colleges and its large veteran population. Hampton Roads has one of the largest concentrations of military personnel in the U.S.

“Those are all the things that went into us saying, ‘this is the right place,’”  Maniaci says, noting that 33 veterans and 10 military spouses already have been hired in Norfolk.

ADP also was impressed with the investment taking place downtown, with projects such as The Main hotel and the revived Waterside District on the Elizabeth River scheduled to open soon.

ADP expects these amenities to help it attract employees, the majority of whom likely will be right out of college or have been in the workforce for only one or two years. “This area appeals to millennials,” Maniaci says. “We want to create an environment where our associates can grow and build on their careers. We want them to stay with us as long as possible.”

Once the site was picked, ADP needed to move quickly in setting up its new center. Its home is a building owned by Buddy Gadams, the head of Norfolk-based Marathon Development Group. “From our first talk to having the lease signed was about four and a half months,” Gadams says. “It was a rocket deal.”

ADP wanted to create a workspace that millennials would enjoy. The building was gutted and renovated by Richmond-based Hourigan Construction. ADP moved into its new quarters on Dec. 1 after renting temporary space in a nearby building.

The new ADP center includes a tech café and a gym, and it soon will have an onsite medical facility. “It’s a beautiful building,” Maniaci says, adding that employees like the space. “When you walk through, you often see foosball games going on near the cafeteria.”

The building also features gathering spaces where employees can brainstorm, as well as several training rooms using a variety of media. “Millennials learn differently than other generations,” Maniaci says. “They are more geared to digital learning and different media. We want happy, trained employees so we can provide clients with the best support possible.”

ADP is recruiting aggressively to fill Norfolk positions. In mid-January it had 450 employees at the new facility, but the number increases each week. “Anyone can go to to apply for a job,” Maniaci says. “That site is focused squarely on Norfolk.”

Maniaci was impressed with the cooperation the company received in moving to Norfolk. “It was very quick,” he says. “There wasn’t a lot of bureaucracy or holdups. We were able to partner with officials very well.”

Eastern Virginia’s recent deals

Company Location #Jobs
ADP Norfolk 1,800
Dollar Tree Inc. Chesapeake 600
Geico Corp. Virginia Beach 390
Sutherland Global Services Chesapeake 200
Movement Mortgage Norfolk 200
Maximus Hampton 189
Norfolk Southern Corp. Norfolk 166
Peet's Coffee Suffolk 135
Newport News Industrial Corp. Newport News 125
Emser Tile Suffolk 98

Source: Virginia Economic Development Partnership, 2016.

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