AXA, one of the largest insurance companies in the U.S., is expanding its Charlotte operations center and will add 550 new jobs there over the next five years.

The Paris-based company, which currently employs 575 people in Charlotte, plans to invest $18 million to expand its offices in University City’s Innovation Park, making it AXA’s largest U.S. location. AXA’s U.S. corporate headquarters will remain in New York City.

“We know from our experience that Charlotte is a great place to attract a talented workforce, allowing us to grow our business and better serve our customers,” said Mark Pearson, chief executive officer of AXA US.

Gov. Roy Cooper said: “Financial services companies like AXA have found a fertile environment for their operations in the Charlotte region, where they can attract talent and grow their business. We’re glad that this global financial protection company will be expanding again and establishing a regional headquarters in our state.”

In business since 1859, AXA provides life insurance, annuity and financial products and services. AXA has approximately 2.5 million household clients in the U.S. Globally, AXA has 107 million clients in 64 countries. AXA’s Charlotte operations center focuses on life operations, customer service, new business, sales, marketing, training, human resources, underwriting, finance and technology.

“AXA is just the kind of financial services company with a global customer base that fits well with the diverse and talented workforce located in Mecklenburg and surrounding counties,” said state Commerce Secretary Anthony M. Copeland.  Commerce and the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina led the state’s support for the company’s expansion.

AXA will bring a variety of jobs to Charlotte, including IT, finance, legal, accounting, customer service and human resources, to support growth of the company’s business. Salaries will vary by position, but the annual payroll for the new jobs will exceed $60 million.

AXA’s expansion in Mecklenburg County will be supported by a state Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG). Under the terms of the JDIG, the company is eligible to receive up to $11.8 million in total reimbursements. Payments will occur in annual installments over 10 years, if the company meets incremental job creation and investment targets. JDIGs reimburse new and expanding companies with a portion of the newly created tax-base.

By law, JDIG projects must result in a net revenue inflow to the state treasury over the life of the award. For projects in Mecklenburg and other Tier 3 counties, 25 percent of the eligible grant is directed to the state’s Industrial Development Fund – Utility Account to help finance economic infrastructure in rural counties. The AXA expansion could provide as much as $3.94 million in new funds for the Utility Account to help rural areas.

Partnering with Commerce and the EDPNC on this project were the North Carolina General Assembly, the North Carolina Community College System, Mecklenburg County, City of Charlotte and the Charlotte Chamber.