Ambulance company moving headquarters to downtown


By Jamaal E. O'Neal

A private ambulance company is moving its corporate headquarters to downtown Wilmington.

FirstMed Inc. officials announced Tuesday the company will occupy 5,500 square-feet of office space in the Bear Building of The Cotton Exchange, 321 N. Front St.

Nancy Bullock, manager and principal leasing agent at the historic mixed-use space, brokered the long-term agreement with the company.

“They’ve been looking at the space since April [2011],” Bullock said. “They came back in June, and started bringing in executives from New York, Canada and Chicago  . . . then they finally decided to do the deal.”

Bullock said the lease was completed in November, and a renovation of the office space was completed last month. She said equipment and personnel would begin moving in this week, including a call center with about 25 employees.

Michael Franks, FirstMed Inc. CEO, said the space will accommodate corporate officers from Canada, Ohio and Illinois, who have all relocated to the Wilmington area.

He said the area's quality of life and Southeastern U.S. access were important factors in bringing the headquaters to the Port City.

"We like the talent pool," Franks said. "It has access to a good airport and its recreationally active."

FirstMed Inc. has more than 2,400 employees and operates in eight states, including a 15-bay ambulance facility in Wilmington.

Franks said his firms plans to hire additional accountants and a head of human resources in the coming weeks. He added that the company also plans to hire more emergency medical technicians and drivers.

"We're pleased with our decision to come to Wilmington," Franks said.

Bullock said the company’s relocation is a win for the Port City.

“The Cotton Exchange is very excited to have FirstMed as one of our largest tenants,” Bullock said. “I believe their presence will be an asset to all of downtown Wilmington.”