The company will relocate from a smaller space in a building on Main Street in Buffalo owned by Erie County Clerk and developer Christopher Jacobs.
Liazon, which has expanded from just a couple of employees five years ago into a growing company in the health insurance field, will take up 10,000 to 15,000 square feet at 199 Scott St., beginning in January 2014, when the renovation work is complete.
It will occupy the top floor of the eight-story building, also known as the Arctic Freezer Building, which Ellicott is spending $14 million to redevelop into a mixed-use facility with commercial, residential, retail and restaurant space, including a planned microbrewery. The building is visible from the Niagara Thruway in downtown Buffalo.
Additionally, Liazon will be able to expand in the future if needed, said William Paladino, CEO of Ellicott Development.
“They've grown leaps and bounds in the last couple of years,” Paladino said. “That's one of the reasons they're looking for a place that can suit their current needs and future needs.”
The company expects to add up to 25 jobs in its Buffalo office this year alone, up 30 percent from its current staff of about 90. The new jobs are in technology, product development, data analysis, technical support, customer service and administrative roles.
“The Buffalo business community and its people have been part of the secret sauce to our success at Liazon,” said Ashok Subramanian, chief executive officer and co-founder of Liazon. “We are excited to reinvest in Buffalo as we prepare for the next wave of growth in the private exchange market and for our solution.”
Liazon is moving from 737 Main St., a three-story building owned by Jacobs, where it has leased space for the past five years. The company, which operates a call center in the building along with most of its other administrative and operational staff, has about 7,000 square feet of space in that building on multiple floors.
“They have continued to take space in my building,” Jacobs said. “They really wanted to be on one floor, and I couldn't accommodate them. It was a floor plate issue.”
Jacobs first disclosed the move Wednesday morning during the Buffalo Place monthly board meeting while touting the company as a model of success in Buffalo. He said the company was “very committed to staying in the city,” as it has “a lot of young employees who like the city.”
Founded by Subramanian and Buffalo native Timothy Godzich, Liazon operates the Bright Choices online benefits store, which allows employers to give workers a fixed amount of money to purchase various insurance products from an array of choices.
The private exchange is considered an example of what the public benefit exchanges could look like under the federal health care reform law, and it has attracted attention from employers, Chambers of Commerce and insurance brokerage firms.
Just this week, M&T Bank Corp.'s M&T Insurance Agency signed an agreement to offer Bright Choices to its insurance clients.
The 115,000-square-foot freezer building, which faces the Niagara Thruway with a political billboard and the words Coffee Rich still engraved on its facade, dates to the 1920s. It was originally the home of the Fairmount Creamery Co., a wholesale dairy distributor.
The building was later shared by Arctic Freezer Co. and Rich Products Co., which makes Coffee Rich nondairy creamers, but it has been vacant for a long time.