Financial services giant MetLife Inc. will bring more than 2,600 jobs to Cary and Charlotte over the next three years after receiving more than $90 million in state incentives.

MetLife plans to invest $125.5 million to consolidate its global technology campus in Cary and its U.S. retail business campus in Charlotte, officials said Thursday.

Joe Bryan, chairman of the Wake County Board of Commissioners, and Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht were giddy over the prospect of about 1,300 new jobs in the area.

“This is a chamber of commerce day,” Bryan said.

“They could have gone anywhere, but they chose North Carolina and they chose Cary,” Weinbrecht said. “For that, we’re truly grateful.”

The location of the Cary campus is still being negotiated, Weinbrecht said, noting local incentives for the project haven’t yet been approved.

The average salary for the Cary jobs will top $100,000, plus benefits, officials said.

“This is a good day for North Carolina. This is a good day for jobs in North Carolina,” Gov. Pat McCrory said. “It’s fantastic news for people looking for work.”

The jobs will be evenly split between the two campuses. They will include product management, marketing, sales and customer support in Charlotte and information technology positions in Cary to support MetLife and its customers.

The insurer is shifting the jobs from Lowell and Boston, Mass.; Somerset, N.J.; Bloomfield, Conn.; Johnstown, Pa.; Warwick, R.I.; and Aliso Viejo and Irvine, Calif., MetLife spokesman John Calagna told The Associated Press.

MetLife employs about 23,000 U.S. administrative staffers in about 30 locations, mostly in the Northeast, Calagna said. The consolidation will allow teams to work together in the same location while cutting MetLife’s real estate presence, he said.

“What’s happening is there are 2,600 jobs in these locations that either we’re closing or we’re reducing. All of those positions are being transferred to North Carolina,” Calagna said.

McCrory said the state also will benefit from MetLife’s corporate culture of encouraging civic involvement by employees.

“It’s not just getting people employed, it’s getting them involved,” he said.

About 150 MetLife employees already work in Charlotte, and company officials said they chose North Carolina for the consolidation after a nine-month search because of access to universities and a low cost of living.

The largest incentives package from the state in more than six years also likely played a role in luring the company to North Carolina.

The state Economic Investment Committee voted Thursday morning to approve a Job Development Investment Grant of up to $87.2 million for MetLife. Under the grant, the company is able to receive a rebate of 75 percent of the state withholding tax on its new jobs over a 12-year period if it meets set hiring and investment targets each year.

The company must have at least 1,474 jobs in North Carolina by the end of 2014 and at least 2,098 by the end of 2015 to qualify for the tax rebate. For every year after that through 2025, it must maintain at least 2,098 jobs in the state. The jobs, which don’t include the MetLife employees already in Charlotte, also must have a minimum average salary of $65,513.

MetLife also qualified for up to $2 million from the One North Carolina Fund, which provides financial assistance to attract business projects to the state. Local governments must match the grant, and the company receives no upfront money and must meet hiring and investment targets to obtain the funds.

Wake Technical Community College and Central Piedmont Community College also chipped in an estimated $4 million in worker training classes.

Google won a $240 million package of state and local incentives in late 2006 to build a data center in Lenoir. Fidelity Investments received $70 million in incentives that same year for a 2,000-employee operation in Research Triangle Park.

Reporter: Cullen Browder
Photographer: Zac Gooch
Web Editor: Matthew Burns