BB&T Corp. has completed the first major infusion of employees into its large back-office operations near Piedmont Triad International Airport.

Spokesman David White said Wednesday that the bank has moved 500 employees into the 390,000-square-foot building at 7701 Airport Center Drive in Greensboro. About half of that workforce represents new hires.

The bank said in October 2012 that it would create 1,700 new jobs over five years at BB&T Triad Corporate Center, where it has a seven-year sublease.

The goal is having up to 2,500 employees in the facility, primarily working in back office, administrative and support functions. The company says it now has 3,743 employees in the Triad.

White said the facility is a “bit ahead of our plan regarding construction and personnel.” The bank began interior renovations in January and completed them in late October.

“BB&T departments currently in the center include mortgage, information-technology services and various risk and back-office operations,” White said. “Additional departments will be added, but it is premature to say which ones at this time.”

White said the bank expects to have nearly 800 employees in the center by year’s end. There have been plans to have at least 250 mortgage-operations division jobs in the center.

Chris Henson, the bank’s chief operating officer, said in October 2012 that internal growth in recent years is the primary reason for the new center.

However, chief financial officer Daryl Bible said in September that the bank expects to reduce its mortgage division workforce in the first half of 2014. He said at that time that the division is experiencing the same pressures from higher mortgage rates and lower refinancing demand as its peers.

Wells Fargo & Co. has eliminated at least 434 mortgage-division jobs in Charlotte and 75 jobs in Raleigh this year as part of at least 5,700 cuts nationally. Bank of America Corp. has cut more than 2,000 jobs companywide in its mortgage business. SunTrust Banks Inc. has eliminated at least 800 jobs companywide, including an undisclosed number in Charlotte.

Tony Plath, a finance professor at UNC Charlotte, said that although he expects BB&T to have significantly fewer job cuts than its larger competitors, it still could eliminate 300 to 500 positions, primarily in North Carolina since most of its mortgage origination employees are in the state.

Henson said that BB&T did not request, nor was it offered, any economic-development incentives as part of the expansion to the Greensboro building.

The facility became available in late 2011 when American Express completed the closing of its call center. About 1,500 of its 1,900 employees were let go, although the company enabled 400 to work from home.

That closing was considered to be the largest commuter job cut in Triad history, because nearly half of the workforce lived outside Guilford County, primarily in Forsyth County.

“This signature building in the center of our region is now home to one of our most important employers,” said Penny Whiteheart, executive vice president of Piedmont Triad Partnership. “BB&T continues to grow, and more Triad residents are in good jobs.”

Bible said the bank is changing how it handles mortgages.

The bank currently makes some first- and second-mortgage originations in branches in what Bible called “direct retail channels.” It also has a separate mortgage business unit. However, to make it easier to comply with new regulations from the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, BB&T is moving all originations into its mortgage banking unit.

Bible said the mortgage unit currently produces $32 billion in mortgages annually, while the branches combined produce about $9 billion.

“We have to get that business and that volume into the mortgage channel,” Bible said. He said the bank plans to move origination production from at least 200 branches a month into the mortgage channel.

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