Element Financial Corp. is considering locations in Center City and Cherry Hill for the headquarters of the asset-management firm that will be formed when the Toronto-based company is split in two this year.

Element Commercial Asset Management, as the independently traded firm is to be known, may also opt for space at a building that the company owns in Sparks, Md., north of Baltimore, said Don Campbell, chief executive officer of the company's U.S. operations.

The commercial-finance business of about 200 employees will be moving from the Horsham Business Center in Montgomery County.

The move comes as Element, which helps companies finance and manage big equipment and vehicle purchases, seeks to raise the profile of its commercial-finance unit after it splits from the bigger, but slower-growing, fleet-management business.

"We really want a bigger, more prestigious location," Campbell said.

Initially, Element will be seeking about 40,000 square feet of office space, but expected acquisitions could drive more demand, he said. The company expects to choose a location within 30 days and has been getting "appropriate attention" from city officials in Philadelphia and Cherry Hill, Campbell added.

Matt Cabrey, executive director of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce's business-retention affiliate, said that keeping the quickly expanding business in the area would be a boon to the region wherever it chooses to move.

"Whether Element decides to invest in operations in Center City Philadelphia or Cherry Hill . . . that's a real good thing for the entire community," Cabrey said.

The Philadelphia region can use a boost. Economic growth in the swath of 11 counties, mostly in Pennsylvania, South Jersey, and Delaware, lagged most other regions between 2008, when the last recession took hold, and 2014, according a report Thursday from commercial-services firm JLL.

The region's gross metropolitan product - the value of all of the goods and services produced within its borders - grew just 4 percent during that time, compared with an average of 7.3 percent across the nation's metropolitan areas, according to JLL.

But both Philadelphia and Cherry Hill are likely eager to have Element's business for themselves.

While Philadelphia has recorded job growth every year since 2010, it has lagged other big cities, according to the Center City District business association.

Some big job losses could be on the horizon, too. Aramark Corp., a major employer in the city, is considering locations outside Philadelphia when the lease at its namesake Center City headquarters building expires in 2018, spokesman Chris Collum said in a statement Friday.

Cherry Hill, meanwhile, is likely hoping to be chosen as development along the waterfront in nearby Camden threatens to lure away companies that want to be closer to Philadelphia's urban vibe while remaining in South Jersey.

Subaru of America Inc. plans to move from Cherry Hill to Camden after a new facility being built near the waterfront for the automaker is completed at the end of 2017.

Cherry Hill and its inland South Jersey neighbors are likely "looking to replace some of the jobs that might be relocating to Camden," Cabrey said.


215-854-2615 @jacobadelman