Aetna has announced it will move its headquarters to Manhattan, relocating its top executives out of Hartford for the first time since its founding in the city in 1853. The shift will come in late 2018.
The move had been rumored for more than a year, and last month Aetna confirmed it was considering a relocation, but did not disclose where it was looking.
The company issued a statement Thursday morning, saying it intended the move as a “meaningful investment in Aetna’s future, and a key step in evolving from an insurer to a health company focused on consumers and their communities.”
In the statement, CEO Mark Bertolini called New York a “knowledge economy hub, and a driver of the innovations that will play a significant part in our ongoing transformation.”
The company will build a new headquarters at 61 9th Avenue, just north of Greenwich Village.
Aetna said the move will have what it termed a “minimal impact” on its Connecticut-based workforce of more than 5,000. It intends to employ 250 people at the Manhattan headquarters - some relocated from Hartford, and some new hires.
The statement goes on, “the company remains committed to its Hartford campus and the thousands of associates based there, in addition to other established locations throughout the country and around the globe. Several of Aetna’s key businesses will remain primarily based in Hartford.”
But it also has a warning for the state.
“Aetna’s long-term commitment to Connecticut will be based on the state’s economic health,” the statement said. “The company remains hopeful that lawmakers will come to an agreement that puts Connecticut on sound financial footing, and that the state will support needed reforms to make Hartford a vibrant city once again.”
Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said the state should use the loss of the company's flag as a rallying cry.
"I hope it serves as a clear and powerful message to leaders of both political parties in Connecticut that we need to take bold action quickly," he said in a statement. "The City of Hartford is finally seeing the start of the revitalization that eluded us for so long, and you can feel the new energy in the Capital City. But at the same time, Hartford and the State of Connecticut as a whole are facing fiscal crises that are decades in the making, and can’t be fixed with stop-gaps or band aids."
Hartford is facing a fiscal crisis that has the city threatening bankruptcy if the state of Connecticut cannot step in with a financial aid package.
Governor Dannel Malloy saw the announcement as an opportunity to warn lawmakers over the current impasse in budget negotiations.
"This is an important reminder that to be competitive, Connecticut state government must immediately take the necessary steps to produce a balanced biennial budget with recurring measures to reduce spending and structural solutions to our long-term problems," the governor said. "We must also continue to invest in the revitalization of our cities."