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Fidelis Care New York plans to nearly double the size of its Amherst office in an expansion that is expected to bring 385 new jobs to the health insurer’s facility in CrossPoint Business Park.

The $16.5 million project would double the size of its CrossPoint office by building an 87,737-square-foot addition to the facility, which has been open for less than three years.

Fidelis’ fast-growing local operations already employ 645 people, and the expansion is expected to increase its local staff by 60 percent over the next five years, pushing its workforce above the 1,000 mark, by 2018, company officials said. The new jobs are expected to pay an average of $53,000 a year.

Fidelis picked Amherst for the expansion over competing sites in Queens and Albany, according to officials from the Amherst Industrial Development Agency, which is being asked to provide nearly $2.5 million in tax breaks for the project at its meeting on Friday.

Fidelis officials, in their application to the IDA requesting tax breaks, said the incentives are needed “to solidify the Amherst location as the front-runner amongst those operations and, most importantly, make the project economically feasible.”

Fidelis provides government-sponsored health care programs, such as Medicaid, Family Health Plus and Child Health Plus. The company also is one of the qualified health plan in the state’s health care exchange.

The company has been one of the faster-growing businesses in Amherst in recent years. In 2010, the company had roughly 430 local employees at an office in Audubon Industrial Park as it embarked on the $15.3 million project that led to the construction of its current office at 480 CrossPoint Parkway.

That project, which included $2.9 million in tax breaks through the Amherst IDA, helped the company create 215 new jobs locally over the last three years, exceeding its job-creation promise by more than 50 percent.

Fidelis officials said the latest Amherst expansion will help the company accommodate additional growth and make its operations more efficient by allowing the insurer to tailor its larger local office to meet its needs and avoid having various functions spread among different locations.

“The operational efficiencies realized by operation at a centralized, built-to-suit facility allows Fidelis Care to remain competitive in its industry,” the company said in its filing with the IDA.

The opening of the state’s health care exchange, coupled with growth in its Medicare and managed long-term care products, is driving the growth, Fidelis officials said.

Fidelis Care has more than 900,000 members across New York, including more than 85,000 in the eight counties of Western New York. The company this month began offering its Medicare Advantage coverage in Erie, Niagara, Cattaraugus, Allegany and Wyoming counties as part of an expansion that now has those insurance products available to consumers in 34 New York counties.

“Fidelis Care’s Amherst office serves as the operations center of our organization and is vital in serving the needs of our members and providers,” said Rev. Patrick J. Frawley, Fidelis Care’s president and chief executive officer. “This expansion is the result of membership growth in all of the programs and products we offer and will help us continue our mission to provide quality, affordable health insurance coverage.”

Fidelis Care’s Amherst office serves as the operations center of our organization and is vital in serving the needs of our members and providers. This expansion is the result of membership growth in all of the programs and products we offer and will help us continue our mission to provide quality, affordable health insurance coverage.

As part of the incentive package, Fidelis Care would receive $1.66 million in property tax reduction over a 10-year period, combined with an estimated $674,000 in sales tax savings and nearly $165,000 in mortgage tax savings.

Despite the tax breaks, the project would more than quadruple the amount of tax revenue generated by the now-vacant land at 490 CrossPoint Parkway that would house the expansion. The project is expected to generate almost $368,000 in additional tax revenue for local schools and municipalities during the 10-year period covered by the incentives, IDA officials said.

email: drobinson@buffnews.com