Cigna Health Insurance will add an additional 9,247 square feet to their lease at the County-owned office complex at Akers and Tulare Ave in Visalia. The insurance giant will add an additional 100 jobs, the County has been told, as a result of the additional space they will lease starting in May. Cigna currently leases 86,856 square feet in the big complex.
The building, known at the Tulare /Akers Professional Building, was purchased by Tulare County in 2016. Cigna had already been main tenant there but has downsized over the years. Today the sprawling building also houses the IRS and Pearson VUE Testing as well as two county departments, the Sheriff and Fire Department, with nearly 50,000sf of space being remodeled.
A county staff report says Cigna made a request in February to lease additional space and the lease was approved just this week at the Board of Supervisors meeting. The lease will bring an additional $183,000 a year to the County with Cigna now using nearly 55% of the space in the180,000sf structure.
Cigna sought the added space exercising the right current tenants have to request space before unoccupied space is offered on the open market.
County official John Hess told the board this week the company wants to use the space for a new call center and that it will add 100 jobs as a result.
Cigna has been one of Visalia’s major employers since the1980s employing as many as 1400 in 2001 after construction of the new Cigna office. But as recently as 2015 they employed just 700 and there were fears the company would leave town all together if federal policy regards the health insurance law did not allow an exemption. Cigna officials said that without an exemption they could not sell expatriate health plans at costs competitive with plans sold in foreign countries. The US Senate later granted the exemption.
More Jobs Coming
Besides this lease at the southeast corner of the building, the County is expected to lease an additional 15,316sf of Class A space at the southwest corner of the building as of March 28, says property manager Robert Newby. At that time the County will open and accept bids on this space – expected to likely bring in a new entity into the community with more jobs.