"Financial services companies represent a $24-billion industryin Boston," Menino says in a prepared statement. "…and I have madeit a priority that we focus on ways to strengthen and grow thissector of our economy." The mayor plans to use tax incrementfinancing and other relief that will assist JP Morgan as the firm'slease at 73 Tremont St. comes to an end. That lease expirationprompted JP Morgan to pursue potential relocations out of the city,supposedly with a concentration on the South Shore, in a strategythat was advancing steadily before the group abruptly alteredcourse and began negotiating a move to Seaport Center in the city'sSeaport District. JP Morgan's change of heart wasfirst reported by GlobeSt.com.

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[IMGCAP(2)]Although an agreement is not yet in place for SeaportCenter, Menino spokesperson Jessica Shumaker tells GlobeSt.com thatthe mayor wanted to get his incentive package moving to helpdemonstrate the city's support for JP Morgan. The BRA board gaveits blessing yesterday afternoon, and Menino is now urging theBoston City Council to deliver its needed approval as well. Whetherthe backing will be there remains unclear, but the concept did geta boost from Boston's top property assessor, Ron Rakow. Not onlywould JP Morgan's occupancy at Seaport Center alleviate a big pieceof vacancy, Rakow says it "will send a strong message to othersthat the waterfront neighborhood is a prime location for furtherexpansion of the financial services industry in Boston."

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Under the plan, JP Morgan and the city would apply jointly tothe Massachusetts Economic Assistance Coordinating Council fordesignation as a certified project, a process that would make thecompany eligible for tax and financing benefits from the state andproperty tax incentives from the city. At stake by Menino's countare 725 existing positions and an estimated 400 new jobs that JPMorgan anticipates will be created over time. JP Morgan operatesits Global Funds Services division from 73 Tremont St. and thenearby One Beacon St. At this point, the firm will keep its BeaconSt. operations.

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In a prepared statement, a JP Morgan spokesperson says themayor's proposal "would make it attractive for us to continue ourgrowth in the city," and says the company has considered severaloptions "in and outside of the Boston area and are hoping to sign alease soon." The firm does not identify any specific locations, butShumaker confirms that the company is in talks with the Beal Cos.and Rockpoint Group, owners of Seaport Center. Calls to Beal and JPMorgan's brokers at Cushman & Wakefield were not returned bypress deadline.

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One intriguing element is the level of Menino's involvement,with some observers claming he initially reached out to JP Morganupon hearing the firm was mulling a move beyond city limits. The JPMorgan spokesperson declined comment, while Shumaker says she isnot sure who initiated the discussions, but she notes that theMayor did acknowledge a proactive approach. Menino "said it is hisjob to sell the city and to keep jobs here," Shumaker relays,adding that, "there has been a lot of back-and-forthconversations."

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