LOWER SALFORD — When Nationwide Insurance closes its Harleysville office, more than 750 jobs will leave the building.
That doesn't mean the jobs will disappear, though. The people doing the jobs will just continue working from home as they have been doing during the coronavirus pandemic.
In April, Nationwide announced it would close five of its office campuses, including the Harleysville one, leaving it with four main campuses and some smaller or specialized offices.
“We've been investing in our technological capabilities for years, and those investments really paid off when we needed to transition quickly to a 98 percent work-from-home model,” Nationwide CEO Kirt Walker said in the announcement. “Our associates and our technology team have proven to us that we can serve our members and partners with extraordinary care with a large portion of our team working from home.”
Before the permanent work-from-home announcement, 780 associates worked in the office, all of whom are now working from home, Ryan Ankrom, Nationwide's public relations director, wrote in answer to emailed questions for this article.
The move will not include a significant amount of job cuts, but there will be at least six, he said.
“We are working with the limited number who were impacted to find other roles within Nationwide, and, for more specialized jobs such as security and maintenance, we are providing job placement services and other career support assistance,” he wrote.
The office complex on Maple Avenue was home to the former Harleysville Insurance, which was merged into Nationwide in 2012.
The change will have little effect on the community, Ankrom said.
“Nationwide associates are very active in the communities where they live and work. Even though we will not have a physical facility presence in Harleysville, our associate presence and community involvement will remain consistent,” he wrote.
By November, the company will finalize its plans for the 200,000 square foot Harleysville facility and the other offices being closed, he said.
Lower Salford Township Manager Joe Czajkowski said the change will have little effect on the municipality.
“The property would still be taxed for property tax purposes,” he said.
Since earned income taxes are paid to the municipality in which the worker lives, not where they work, there would be no change in that, he said. Closing the office will mean the $52 per year Local Services Tax paid by people working in the municipality would no longer be received from the people who were working at the office, he said.
The township has not heard of any plans for the future use of the site, he said.
The property is in the administrative office zoning district, he said, which allows “basically, institutional uses and administrative executive or professional offices.”
Nationwide previously sold two neighboring tracts of land, a 12.34-acre one at Oak Drive and Harleysville Pike and a 43.24-acre one on Maple Avenue.
Rezoning requests by current owner Metropolitan Development Group that would have allowed a combined 133 new homes on the tracts were turned down by the Lower Salford Township Board of Supervisors in 2018 following opposition from residents. In March of this year, zoning changes to allow a combined 110 new homes were approved. The new plans and the zoning changes were the result of residents, the developer and township planning commission working together, township officials said.
Land development plans for the two tracts have been submitted and are in the process of being reviewed by the planning commission, Czajkowski said.
Along with Harleysville, office campuses in Gainesville, Florida.; Raleigh, North Carolina; Wausau, Wisconsin; and Richmond, Virginia are being closed, Nationwide said.
Campuses in Columbus, Ohio, where the company is headquartered; Des Moines, Iowa; Scottsdale, Arizona; and San Antonio, Texas, will remain, the company said.
“Our goal is to ensure that when a recovery comes, we're prepared to win business with competitively priced solutions while enhancing our resiliency and operational efficiency,” Walker said in the April release. “We're technology-enabled, people-connected and mission-driven. I remain extremely optimistic about our future.”