Wex, one of the largest employers in Maine and one of the fastest growing companies in the United States, announced Thursday that it plans to build a $50 million operations center at The Downs in Scarborough.

The payment-processing technology firm intends to consolidate six South Portland offices at the new 200,000-square-foot facility, which would house as many as 1,200 workers in various call center, service center and other operational roles.

The operations center would be located near the grandstand and the racetrack at the Scarborough Downs, at the heart of the village center that’s planned as part of a $621 million mixed-use redevelopment of the harness-racing property.

Last March, Wex moved its headquarters from South Portland to a new $40 million, 100,000-square-foot building in Portland’s downtown eastern waterfront neighborhood that’s designed to hold 400 employees. In August, Fortune Magazine listed Wex at No. 72 on its list of the 100 fastest-growing, publicly traded companies.

Wex CEO Melissa Smith said building an operations center at The Downs would allow the company to create a cohesive and collaborative work environment and nurture a sense of community for its employees.

“We are excited about the amenities that will be offered to our employees at this location,” Smith said. “This will be a place we can more seamlessly expand our workforce in Maine as the company continues to grow.”

Wex has about 1,500 employees in Greater Portland and about 4,700 worldwide. The company has generated total revenue of $1.66 billion and net income of $132 million in its most recent four quarters.

Wex CEO Melissa Smith

The Downs is being redeveloped by Crossroads Holdings, a firm made up of the Risbara and Michaud families of Scarborough. The 500-acre harness racing property is in the center of town, stretching from Route 1 to Payne Road, near the Maine Turnpike.

The Downs includes a village center, where the Wex campus would be located near a planned sports center and possible community center, as well as businesses such as a restaurant and a day-care center.

“We are very pleased that Wex is coming to town and we’re honored they chose The Downs,” said Rocco Risbara, a Crossroads principal. “This will have a positive impact on the local economy.”

Working with Charles Craig of NAI The Dunham Group, Wex sought proposals from communities throughout Greater Portland and rated them based on access to major highways, space for a campus setting with on-site amenities and potential for planned future expansion.

“The Downs surpassed all criteria and we were quite impressed with the master plan and offerings,” said Safet Cobaj, Wex vice president of global real estate. “This location will be an asset for Wex when attracting a strong and talented workforce.”

Wex plans to break ground at The Downs in 2020 and welcome workers to the new facility by spring 2022.

The Downs was planned with the understanding that many people want to live, work and play in a community that offers a wide range of businesses and a blend of housing, recreation and entertainment venues near a walkable village center, said Peter Michaud, a Crossroads principal.

In 2018, the Town Council approved a credit enhancement agreement that will reimburse The Downs developers as much as $81 million in property taxes over three decades. In return, they must meet certain goals in building a mix of commercial, light-industrial, recreational and residential development that’s well underway, including 48 condominiums, 48 apartments and 30 single-family homes.

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