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Benefitfocus opens building, announces 300 new jobs


Benefitfocus CEO Shawn Jenkins (from left), S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley, Charleston Mayor Joe Riley and Benefitfocus chairman Mason Holland cut the ribbon Tuesday on the company’s new Design and Engineering Building. (Photo/Leslie Burden)
Benefitfocus CEO Shawn Jenkins (from left), S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley, Charleston Mayor Joe Riley and Benefitfocus chairman Mason Holland cut the ribbon Tuesday on the company’s new Design and Engineering Building. (Photo/Leslie Burden)
By Matt Tomsic
mtomsic@scbiznews.com
Published Dec. 12, 2012

The metallic clanging of cowbells greeted Gov. Nikki Haley and others during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Benefitfocus Design and Engineering Building on Tuesday.

“There’s one thing I noticed,” Haley said. “We need a little bit more cowbell. And the really cool thing is we’re about to celebrate some more cowbell.”

Benefitfocus CEO Shawn Jenkins talks about the company’s role in developing Charleston’s burgeoning technology sector. (Photo/Leslie Burden)
Benefitfocus CEO Shawn Jenkins talks about the company’s role in developing Charleston’s burgeoning technology sector. (Photo/Leslie Burden)
Haley, Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, Benefitfocus CEO Shawn Jenkins and Benefitfocus employees celebrated the opening of the 80,000-square-foot facility and the plans to add 300 new jobs during the next two years. At capacity, the building can house 475 employees. The Daniel Island-based tech company offers cloud-based services that helps customers shop, enroll, manage and exchange their benefits.

“This is an amazing story,” Riley said to the crowd after receiving his cowbell ovation. “It is a wonderful signal of continued growth.”

In 12 years, Riley said, Benefitfocus has grown from a small startup to more than 700 employees who serve millions of customers. He likened the tech company to the anchors in California that helped create Silicon Valley and said announcements like Tuesday’s push the region toward creating a Silicon Harbor, the buzzword that’s been attached to the Lowcountry’s growing tech industry.

Jenkins said the opening is another signpost on the company’s road to success. He said the company built the space to attract the best minds in design and engineering, and the building is a social workspace that raises interaction between employees. On the third floor, engineers and designers share workspace with a coffee bar, sofas, mounted guitars and other amenities.

“It’s a historic day for us,” Jenkins said. “We literally are just getting started.”

Ernest Andrade, founder and executive director of the Charleston Digital Corridor, said the announcement bodes well for the tech community in Charleston.

“We need to get used to these types of announcements,” Andrade said. “These are not one-offs anymore; these are substantial investments. If you look at all the indicators, they’re all very positive.”


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