While the coronavirus continues to keep workers at home, emptying office buildings and creating an upheaval in commercial real estate, one Quad-Cities employer is bracing for rapid growth that would bring more office jobs to downtown Davenport.
Moline-based divvyDOSE recently announced plans to expand operations to Davenport, adding 200 to 300 new positions to support its growing direct-to-consumer medication delivery service.
"We look forward to what our expanding footprint in both Moline and Davenport will mean for the consumers we are proud to serve," divvyDOSE COO Luke Lonergan said in a press release.
A company representative could not be reached for comment as of deadline Tuesday.
The online pharmacy startup recently hosted a virtual job fair to recruit for open positions in enrollment, insurance and customer service, according to a press release.
A competitor to Amazon-owned PillPack, the company helps patients, particularly those with multiple chronic ailments, manage their medications in neat, easy-to-use packages that indicate what day and time to take them. The company organizes patients' pills in pre-sorted packs, and delivers them by mail at no additional cost.
DivvyDOSE plans to move front-end operations to the second and third floors of the Mississippi Plaza in downtown Davenport previously occupied by audit, tax and consulting firm RSM McGladrey, said building owner Rodney Blackwell of Financial District Properties.
Packaging and dispensing of medication will remain at the business's Moline facility off John Deere Road, according to a Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce press release.
Chamber staff, along with the city of Davenport, worked with divvyDOSE and Blackwell, the owner of Mississippi Plaza, to identify and secure office space for the company’s expanded operations.
Launched in 2015 by physician Arvind Movva, divvyDOSE was purchased last fall by UnitedHealth Group, the nation's largest health insurer, for more than $300 million, according to news reports.
As a result of the acquisition, divvyDOSE will need to add staff to take on more clients, according to city of Davenport, QC Chamber and company officials.
Added jobs include new positions in data entry, insurance billing, communicating with doctors’ offices and customer service.
Company leadership announced news of the expansion to its more than 300 employees, about 230 of whom work in the Quad-Cities, on Friday. The Quad Cities Chamber publicly announced the expansion plans Tuesday.
Julie Forsythe, senior vice president of business and economic growth at the Chamber, said the company's expansion was further reflection that the Quad-Cities was an ideal region to start and grow a business.
"It's further proof that there is an ecosystem of support for entrepreneurs ... from the idea stage to early business model to funding and acquisition," Forsythe said. "This is a win for downtown Davenport and the region," adding jobs with competitive wages, benefits and opportunities for career advancement at a time when many have become unemployed during the pandemic and are looking for work.
Bruce Berger, economic development director for the city of Davenport, added that the company's planned expansion provides "a big shot in the arm" in filling vacant office space downtown in a building that has seen large employers leave in recent years, including Lee Enterprises. The company, which owns the Quad-City Times, moved out of its downtown corporate office space in the Mississippi Plaza building to a location on East 53rd Street in 2019.
"Having that many jobs moving into a building that has been (mostly) vacant" is a great success story that supports a more vibrant downtown, Berger said.
"As much as the pandemic has created huge changes (for the need for office space), and will going forward, it’s very encouraging that there will still be a market at least for some office use ... and it’s great going forward to have space that fits for a company that’s locally grown here to expand into," he said.
Rockwell said he planned to convert the remaining vacant floors in the Mississippi Plaza building into apartments, for a total of 40 units, with possibilities for additional housing and office expansion for divvyDOSE elsewhere in the building.
Bringing more jobs downtown, across the street from the Figge Art Museum, helps bolster a growing number of dining, shopping, entertainment and housing options downtown, Rockwaell said.
Kyle Carter, executive director of the Downtown Davenport Partnership, an affiliate of the Chamber, said divvyDOSE's expansion "is exactly the kind of growing entrepreneurial company we seek to attract via our new master plan, and we're excited to see their workforce enjoy the benefits of our walkable, amenity-rich downtown."