Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Global law firm chooses Nashville for facility

An international law firm said Tuesday it will consolidate back-office functions in a new Nashville facility, the latest shared-services center to come to the region.

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLC said its planned center will provide human resource, information technology, finance and other non-legal professional services for its 14 offices worldwide, including its New York headquarters.

The center is expected to open in fall 2012 and eventually have as many as 150 employees, who probably will be a mix of relocations and local hires.

The firm wants to lease about 30,000 to 40,000 square feet of office space and is scouting several possible locations for the center, but has no timetable for making a decision, said Sean Whelan, the firm’s chief financial officer.

Whelan declined to say what geographical areas the firm is considering, but a local official said the firm is focusing its search on Davidson County.

“We’re excited,” said Jeff Hite, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce’s business recruitment director. “It’s a good win for Nashville.”

Local officials had been talking with the firm and its site selection consultant for six months, he said. Those talks included economic incentives offered by Metro, the state and the Tennessee Valley Authority, Hite said. The amount and type of incentives the project could receive have not been determined, local and state officials said.

Nashville wins out

Pillsbury Winthrop began its search with 300 U.S. cities, then narrowed that to a dozen for additional study, Whelan said. From there, the firm picked four finalists for site visits before ultimately choosing Nashville.

Affordable housing, a concentration of educational institutions here, cultural amenities and favorable tax rates were key factors in the decision, Whelan said.

“We really wanted to find a place that was attractive to our employees,” he said, noting Nashville was the top choice of a focus group of Pillsbury Winthrop employees.

That helped push Nashville ahead of other places that offered lower startup and operating costs, said Jim Rishwain, the firm’s chairman.

The firm announced plans for the center a year ahead of its anticipated opening to give employees enough time to consider and prepare for relocation, Whelan said. He, along with the firm’s chief information officer, will move to Nashville to oversee the center’s startup and operations.

Last year, Loews Hotels opened a 40,000-square-foot shared-services center here. As part of its search, Pillsbury Winthrop talked with Loews and others who have opened similar centers in the area, Whelan said.

Pillsbury Winthrop focuses on the energy, financial services, real estate and technology sectors. It has 11 U.S. offices, plus one each in London, Shanghai and Tokyo and an affiliate in Abu Dhabi, according to its website. This will be its first location in Tennessee.