Durham County

Policygenius to bring jobs and second HQ to Durham. Incentives helped seal the deal.

Policygenius founders Jen Fitzgerald, left and Francois de Lame, right, pose for a portrait in Brooklyn. The company announced on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019, that it would open an office in Durham, N.C.
Policygenius founders Jen Fitzgerald, left and Francois de Lame, right, pose for a portrait in Brooklyn. The company announced on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019, that it would open an office in Durham, N.C. Courtesy of Policygenius

An insurance startup plans to bring high-paying jobs and its second headquarters to downtown Durham after the county helped sweeten the deal Monday night.

The Durham County commissioners voted 3-0 to give $188,500 in incentives to Policygenius for creating at least 377 jobs in Durham County over five years.

Vice Chairman James Hill and Commissioners Brenda Howerton and Heidi Carter voted for the incentives.

Chairwoman Wendy Jacobs and Commissioner Ellen Reckhow were absent, attending a transportation conference in Vancouver, British Columbia.

“I am really pleased that Policygenius wants to locate its second headquarters in our amazing county,” Carter said. “When we’re making these decisions about economic investment incentives, we’re not just giving this money away, the companies are actually earning it. Performance criteria metrics have to be met.”

The local incentive is part of a larger state-sponsored inducement to land the New York-based company.

The N.C. Department of Commerce approved a Job Development Investment Grant last week. The state will reimburse the company up to nearly $5 million over a 12-year period, if it meets hiring and investment goals. If it does not meet the goals, the company will not receive any money from the incentive package.

The deal follows Durham and the Triangle missing out on several high-profile attempts in the last year to lure Amazon, Apple and federal government investments by the Defense Department and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“The area has a lot of talent,” said Policygenius spokesman Kevin Fusick. “We did a lot of research and it became very clear that the network of community colleges and schools is second to none. When we met with local and state officials, they made a really compelling case for Durham.”

Who they’ll be hiring

About two-thirds of the jobs will be entry level and will not necessarily require an advanced degree, Fusick says.

The average salary will be $72,216 — higher than Durham County’s average of $68,731, The News & Observer previously reported.

“That’s good for the public to know,” Howerton said. “We have so many jobs that are high tech or scientific driven that it leaves out certain demographics. We are working hard to ensure we’re not leaving out individuals. We’re excited about this.”

The company offers paid internships in New York and has pledged to work with the Durham Public Schools’ Career Technical Education programs and with Durham Technical Community College, Fusick said.

“It’s much more than the jobs,” Carter said. “The jobs are certainly an important piece. And we really hope our citizens get most of those jobs. And that’s why all those other benefits are so important, particularly the ones related to education.”

The company could begin hiring in Durham in a few weeks, Fusick said.

What is Policygenius?

The company, founded in 2014, has built a marketplace for consumers to compare multiple insurance policies.

It offers a one-stop approach for finding all types of insurance, including life insurance, homeowners insurance and pet insurance, according to its website.

Commissioners asked Fusick about the company’s commitment to diversity.

Fusick said the company has actively supported LGBTQ initiatives in New York.

“We’ve been working really hard to bring what we do in New York to the local community here,” he said. “It’s something we take very, very seriously. We look not only to the broad company, but internally to the departments to ensure that various demographic makeups are represented.”

Policygenius is led by CEO Jennifer Fitzgerald.

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Joe Johnson is a reporter covering breaking stories for The News & Observer. He most recently covered towns in western Wake County and Chatham County. Before that, he covered high school sports for The Herald-Sun.