Geisinger Shifts 300 Workers From W-B To Jenkins Twp. Facility
WILKES-BARRE — A loss for Wilkes-Barre is a gain for Jenkins Twp.
About 300 Geisinger employees have moved out of an office building at 60 Public Square in downtown Wilkes-Barre into a new three-story office building in CenterPoint Commerce and Trade Park in Jenkins Twp.
Employees once occupied seven floors of the downtown office building. Now, about 50 Geisinger pharmacy refill call center employees remain downtown on one floor, according to Lisa Golden, Geisinger Health Plan chief operating officer.
Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tony George said it’s “disappointing” that Geisinger has moved many of its employees from downtown Wilkes-Barre.
It will be a loss for the city because the employees shopped downtown and ate at downtown restaurants. The city also will lose the $52 Local Services Tax paid by employees who are leaving the downtown, George said. “On the bright side, the offices that Geisinger is vacating are prime spaces for other businesses,” George said. “We hope that other businesses will see the potential in moving or expanding their businesses in downtown Wilkes-Barre.”
In all, about 350 Geisinger employees from Luzerne and Lackawanna counties have moved into the 79,000-square-foot office building at 300 Keystone Ave. as Geisinger’s workforce continues to expand.
“It’s an investment we made to enhance customer service not only for patients but for health plan members,” Golden said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “We listened to our employees when it came to deciding the new location and found the perfect site right in the middle of Luzerne and Lackawanna counties.”
Golden said Geisinger will continue to work with officials from the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce and will continue to support and invest in Wilkes-Barre. The health system also will continue to lease parking spaces in downtown Wilkes-Barre, she said.
Geisinger employees have paid parking spaces downtown in two garages, Park & Lock East on North Washington Street and Park & Lock North on North Main Street, said Tom Torbik, executive director of the city’s parking authority.
They are vacating about 200 spaces but keeping about 100 spaces, Torbik said. He said this will not mean a financial loss, however. Geisinger employees who formerly parked downtown will be replaced by more than 200 employees from the Labor & Industry office building who formerly parked in the intermodal transportation center and will now pay to park in Park & Lock Central and Park & Lock North, he said.
Labor & Industry employees are moving into these downtown garages because GUARD Insurance employees will park in the intermodal center, Torbik said. Golden said Geisinger leased the space in the building on Public Square and has a new lease for the 50 employees who still work there. She declined to discuss details of the lease.
Geisinger is relocating as its workforce in Northeast Pennsylvania continues to expand.
With expansion at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Plains Twp., the addition of Scranton’s Geisinger Community Medical Center and the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine, Geisinger employs more than 7,140 people in the Northeast region.
The health system recruited more employees when it reopened the emergency department at Geisinger South Wilkes-Barre last year and Geisinger CMC brought back maternity services.
Over the last three years, the health system invested about $22 million in hospital improvements including a $3.1 million newly renovated inpatient unit that opened Wednesday on the sixth floor of Geisinger South Wilkes-Barre.
Golden said the new facility in CenterPoint includes convenient parking, a walking trail, a cafeteria with outside seating, coffee and other food chains nearby and is accessible to public transportation.
Mericle Construction built CenterPoint Commerce and Trade Park that spreads through Jenkins and Pittston townships.
With Geisinger’s move into the new facility, there are now nearly 6,000 employees in the park and 51 tenants, said Jim Cummings, spokesman for Mericle Commercial Real Estate Services.
According to Cummings, Geisinger selected a site that was constructed through Mericle’s “Ready to Go” program, a major investment in prepared sites and new buildings.
Mericle constructed the office building to Geisinger’s specifications and it’s the “most visible site on the I-81 Corridor in a business park that gives them room for expansion,” Cummings said.
Golden said an advantage of the new CenterPoint location is that more than 80,000 vehicles drive by the park every day. Along with great visibility, she said it’s easily accessible for employees and members.
“We have a lot of employees at CenterPoint who are smiling from ear to ear and we hear comments about how proud they are to come to work,” Golden said. “They have this new opportunity for increasing collaboration with their team and we’re really excited to see the growth that continues.”
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