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SCARBOROUGH — The Canadian insurer Sun Life Financial announced plans to open an office this spring in Scarborough and hire about 100 employees.
The company announced the move Monday, saying that it was drawn to the area partly because it is already home to companies with expertise in disability insurance and a “pool of strong talent” to join the company.
“The Portland area is actually considered a major hub for this industry, and it’s been that way for quite a while,” Sun Life spokeswoman Devon Portney Fernald said. “(Sun Life’s U.S. President) Dan Fishbein settled in that area because he’s in that business, and it’s one of the best areas to be in if you are in that industry.”
Fernald said the company plans to have about 100 employees at the Portland location to start, with a mix of new hires and transfers from other New England offices and some employees who currently work at home. The U.S. headquarters of the Canadian company will remain in Wellesley, Massachusetts, she said.
In the next few years, the company hopes to employ more people in the Scarborough office, where capacity is about 200, Fernald said.
The office will be at 6 Ashley Drive, in a space of about 38,400 square feet in Roundwood Business Park. The building was previously the offices of shoe company Cole Haan, which consolidated operations in New Hampshire in 2013 and moved out of Maine.
Sun Life is based in Toronto, Canada, but it has U.S. offices throughout New England, in Windsor, Connecticut; Portsmouth, New Hampshire; and Wellesley, Massachusetts.
Fernald said the Scarborough location will serve as a showcase for its customers, who are employers providing disability insurance to employees. She said the hires will be part of an overall expansion for the company and not transfers of positions from other offices.
The other major companies in the industries of disability and workers’ compensation insurance include Unum and MEMIC in Portland.
Gov. Paul LePage praised the move in a news release Monday, saying that Sun Life “is a global company that could have gone anywhere in the world.”
U.S. Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins also praised the announcement in a joint statement Monday, saying they welcomed the company and are pleased it saw the potential to hire talented workers in that field from the Portland area.
Fernald said the company has worked with Peter Del Greco of the nonprofit business recruiting firm Maine & Co. in deciding to locate in Maine. The former Cole Haan space in Scarborough had been vacant since 2014, according to a listing from commercial real estate broker CBRE The Boulos Co.