Dun & Bradstreet: Why loss of HQ (but only a few employees) isn’t much of a loss for N.J.

Yes, New Jersey is losing a corporate headquarters. Short Hills-based Dun & Bradstreet has announced it will soon make Jacksonville, Florida, its new corporate home.

Announcements such as this are never a good look for a state — and certainly play into the “high-cost New Jersey losing out to a low-cost Southern state” narrative.

But, when you look at the numbers, it’s an easy loss to swallow. In fact, it may not be much of a loss.

For starters, state officials have been told Dun & Bradstreet only is taking about two dozen of its New Jersey employees to Florida.

A Dun & Bradstreet spokesperson told ROI-NJ that the company will be recruiting for nearly all of the promised 500 jobs in Jacksonville in the next five years. The company’s head count in New Jersey essentially will stay the same.

“The opening of Dun & Bradstreet’s new location in Jacksonville will have minimal impact to our New Jersey hub,” the spokesperson said. “The number of employees in New Jersey is expected to remain at levels very consistent to what they currently are.”

Then, there’s this: Jacksonville appears to be paying a steep incentives price to lure the company.

According to reporting in the Jacksonville Daily Record, the city could be paying as much as $25 million to bring the company, a leading global provider of business data and analytics, including:

  • $12 million: Headquarters Retention Grant paid in $600,000 increments over 20 years;
  • $6 million: Relocation Grant paid over three years;
  • $3 million: Target Industry Grant at $6,000 per job paid in $1,500 increments over four years.

In addition, the state of Florida is committing a $4 million High Impact Performance Incentive Grant to the project.

Kirk Wendland, the city’s economic development executive director, reportedly told the city council that the highly competitive recruitment process for Dun & Bradstreet pushed his office to offer incentives that will require the council to waive its public investment policy rules.

“This is a significant investment on our part, but this is, essentially, what the market is for this type of highly sought-after project,” he is quoted as saying.

Whether other locations truly were in play isn’t clear.

After all, a relocation to Jacksonville has made sense since 2019, when Dun & Bradstreet was acquired by an investor group including Jacksonville-based Black Knight Inc. — a group that is headed by Jacksonville resident Anthony Jabbour.

Jabbour, who serves as Black Knight CEO, also leads Dun & Bradstreet.

What is clear is this: State officials said New Jersey never discussed any incentives with Dun & Bradstreet. And that’s a good thing.

Losing a corporate headquarters — especially one with a global name — is not good for the state. And there are plenty of reasons why New Jersey will lose corporate headquarters going forward — and they need to be addressed.

But this doesn’t appear to be the time or place for a fight. And, if New Jersey truly is keeping almost all of its jobs while Jacksonville is spending $25 million, we’re not sure there even was a fight to begin with.