By Denise Allabaugh, Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice
WILKES-BARRE — Pepperjam, the internet marketing business formerly known as eBay Enterprise Marketing Solutions, will add 50 to 75 jobs over the next 18 months, the company’s Chief Executive Officer Michael Jones said Monday.
The company, headquartered in the Innovation Center in downtown Wilkes-Barre, is looking to fill job openings that pay an average salary of $60,000 a year and run the gamut from technology positions, engineers, coders and creative people, to account managers, sales, administrative and service-related positions, Jones said.
Pepperjam now employs 120 people in Wilkes-Barre and a total of about 300 at its 10 offices around the world, he said.
In addition to Wilkes-Barre, Pepperjam has locations in King of Prussia, New York City, Arizona, and California as well as Canada, London and Sydney, Australia.
Pepperjam has expanded in Wilkes-Barre from the third floor of the Innovation Center to the second floor, where technology teams moved.
Its expansion and retention of jobs is part of the “Innovation Squared” project, which Gov. Tom Wolf announced Friday will receive $2 million in state funds from the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program.
Jones said the $2 million investment will help make downtown Wilkes-Barre the place to stay, grow and thrive not just for Pepperjam, but for other companies as well. He expects more businesses will take notice of what downtown Wilkes-Barre’s potential is.
The “Innovation Squared” project is an initiative aimed at creating an innovation district in downtown Wilkes-Barre and transforming it into a technology hub.
The project also involves turning the long-time vacant First National Bank on Public Square into a new home for start-up companies.
Jones said he believes 2017 is “going to be a really good year for Wilkes-Barre” with additional investment coming to the city.
He credited leaders at the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce, Wico van Genderen and Joe Boylan, who also were instrumental in creating a 6,000-square-foot multi-media and technology center on the lower level of the Innovation Center called the Wilkes-Barre THINK Center, which was helpful to Pepperjam.
Thanks to the center, Pepperjam can simulcast meetings at its offices throughout the world without leaving downtown Wilkes-Barre.
While the chamber struggled for years with identity and debt issues, Jones said, “There’s finally a group in there with real vision for the future of this area. “
“The sky’s the limit moving forward,” Jones said. “Having them running the chamber is a huge difference maker in the area.”
Jones said he has always been a proponent of downtown Wilkes-Barre’s potential but he said he wanted to see some investment in the area that would help with growth for companies like Pepperjam.
The THINK Center also allows Pepperjam officials to host global sales meetings and business conferences and has cutting edge technology used in other areas like New York and Silicon Valley, Jones said.
“It’s really in the beginning stages of something special here,” Jones said. “Pepperjam is a concrete example of what’s possible.”
In April, Pepperjam went back to its original name under which entrepreneur Kris Jones started it in 1999 as a gourmet food company while he was a graduate student at Villanova University. He sold products based on his late grandmother’s recipe and it later became an internet marketing agency.
It quickly grew into one of the largest affiliate networks and performance marketing agencies. The company was sold to GSI Commerce in 2009 and eBay acquired it in 2011 for $2.4 billion.