Silicon Valley Bank announces new operations center in Tempe - East Valley Tribune: Arizona

Silicon Valley Bank announces new operations center in Tempe

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Posted: Tuesday, January 3, 2012 2:19 pm

A California bank which helps finance high-tech companies is opening a new operations center in Tempe, a move they say will create up to 200 new jobs for Arizonans in the next two years.

But it does not necessarily mean more access to capital for local firms.

Greg Becker, chief executive of Silicon Valley Bank, said his company was attracted to Arizona because of what he said is "access to talent," particularly for information technology positions. Becker said his bank already is competing for those kinds of professionals in California.

He also said the proximity to California also was an issue, as well as non-job factors, including he said the quality of life in Arizona as well as the reasonable cost of living, which "really made it a natural place for us to be."

And then there were the incentives.

Don Cardon, chief executive of the Arizona Commerce Authority, said the company will be eligible for job training funds. He also said it will receive cash from the $25 million Arizona Competes Fund.

But Cardon would not provide details at Tuesday's press conference, saying the specifics are still being worked out. He promised public disclosure of that by the end of the week.

Cardon hinted, though, it might be a large amount.

"I personally suggested to our executive board to do what it takes to get this announcement done," he said. Cardon said, though, the size of any package should not be compared to just the idea of creating 200 new jobs.

"It's just fundamentally huge as an infrastructural piece for our state," he said.

"It was an important part of it," Becker said of the incentives. "I wouldn't say it was the most important part."

And Becker said the incentives are tied to his bank actually hiring people here.

"So if you don't hire the people, you don't get the incentives," he said. "It makes sense for us and it can make sense for the local community as well."

Aside from the new hires, Becker said his firm will be moving up to 50 existing workers to Arizona from other places.

Silicon Valley Bank already has had a small lending office in Tempe since 1997, a place where commercial customers can apply for loans and conduct other business. Becker said the move is part of the bank's goal of expanding its operations.

"We are unique from a banking perspective that we have some of the most innovative, unique, fastest-growing companies, technology companies," he said. "And we work with investors that support these companies," he said, saying more than half of all venture-backed companies in the United States are Silicon Valley Bank clients.

Among Arizona firms, he listed SynCardia Systems in Tucson and GlobalMed and 41st Parameter, both in Scottsdale, all of which Becker describes as "fast-growth companies."

Becker said, though, that the expansion of what he called "back office" operations in Tempe is unrelated to actual lending and will not mean more money for Arizona firms.

"That being said, as we open up and expand our market, clearly we're going to be having more people come here," he said. "And so we expect to do more events around," Becker said, including seminars, and special events for corporate officers, all of which he believes will eventually help attract venture capital.

The cash grant - whatever the amount - will be only the second the Commerce Authority has awarded since the quasi-public agency replaced the state Department of Commerce last year. But Cardon said there are about five other requests he described as being in "final stage negotiations" that could be announced soon.

Clear Energy Systems, which manufactures various kinds of portable generators, got $1 million in October.

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