Wednesday, December 15, 2010

VACAVILLE - What San Francisco is losing will be Vacaville's gain.

Workers' comp carrier announces Vacaville expansion plans

By Ian Thompson | DAILY REPUBLIC | December 13, 2010 16:08


e_insurance%20copy.jpgThe State Compensation Insurance Fund office in Vacaville is expected to receive 422 employees being transferred from the fund's San Francisco headquarters. Photo by Brad Zweerink

VACAVILLE - What San Francisco is losing will be Vacaville's gain.

The State Compensation Insurance Fund is sending 422 employees to its Vacaville facility in September 2011 as part of a reorganization to save money, reduce its real estate footprint and make it a more efficient insurer.

The Fund was established in 1914 and is the state's largest provider of workers' compensation insurance. It has always had its headquarters in San Francisco.

It is moving 755 jobs out of San Francisco with Vacaville getting the lion's share, while Pleasanton will get 293 jobs and Sacramento will get 40. The San Francisco location will keep 75 workers.

'In recent years, we have made strides in improving services, enhancing our customer focus, and making it easier to do business with us. Now we are taking several steps to achieve our goal of greater efficiency and long term operational stability,' State Fund President and CEO Tom Rowe said in a statement.

This news has pleased Vacaville leaders who said it is not much of a surprise.

'We are delighted. It is very good news for Vacaville and the county,' said Vacaville Economic Development Director Mike Palumbo.

Vacaville enticed the Fund to build a campus in Vacaville four years ago and it has built three of the five buildings it planned for the 32-acre campus located next to Genentech.

One of Vacaville's objectives in getting the Fund here was to establish Vacaville as a suitable location for these type of back-office jobs, Palumbo said.

'The more jobs we have, even if these people are not all local people, it helps the economy,' Palumbo said. 'In a sea of not very good news, this is good news.'

The Vacaville facility, which presently has 573 employees, will see 120 of its workers moved to Pleasanton early next summer, before the San Francisco workers come here.

Vacaville became the recipient for so many of the Fund's San Francisco employees 'because our salaries are much more in line with the cost of living in Vacaville than San Francisco,' according to Fund Communications Director Jennifer Vargan.

Once the moves are done, the Vacaville campus' three buildings will be full.

There are no plans for further expansion at this time, according to Vargan.

Just how many of these employees will commute to Vacaville or move to Vacaville is unknown. There is also the question of whether some of the jobs will be local hires.

Our employees are reviewing their options,' Vargan said.

During the next three years, the Fund will also consolidate its regional Claims and Underwriting offices into central locations in Eureka, Redding, Sacramento, Stockton, Pleasanton, Fresno, Bakersfield, Monterey Park, Riverside and Santa Ana.

'We're pleased for Solano County,' said Solano County Economic Development Corporation President Michael Ammann.

'This is not just moving to a lower-cost area. They have had a good experience in Vacaville,' Ammann said.

Ammann said he can also see this as an opportunity to talk to other firms in the back-office insurance business, showing them what prompted the Fund to move here.

'This gives us a run to go talk to similar folks,' Ammann said.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at