The company is investing at least $15 million in the project, contingent upon acceptable local incentives, approved Wednesday during a brief executive session after the Tyler City Council meeting. The council earlier agreed to join the Tyler Reinvestment Zone Committee in offering a five-year tax abatement as a gesture of support for the company.
Officials estimate the city of Tyler essentially would defer $156,649 over the life of the agreement. Incentives approved Wednesday amount to about $2,700 per employee per job, so long as the agreement remains in effect at least two years. If the company sheds those positions, it must repay any incentives offered, in full, officials said.
“Several months ago, we had an opportunity to encourage Centene to come to our community,” Tyler Mayor Barbara Bass said. “We’re excited. We welcome these new jobs to our community and we’re very excited to have Centene … these will be good jobs with benefits.”
Centene is expected to provide 327 new jobs, many paying in the range of $40,000 each with benefits, officials said.
Gov. Rick Perry announced in May that the state is investing $1.3 million through the Texas Enterprise Fund in Centene Corp. to open the center in Tyler.
Tyler Junior College President Dr. Mike Metke said Wednesday that TJC joined in the tax abatement as part of the incentive for Centene to locate here. The company had its choice of many cities throughout the country, but chose Tyler, he added.
With the agreement, TJC will forego about $61,632 in taxes over a five-year period, officials said.
“We’re real excited about having them come to Tyler,” Metke said, adding that Centene is a great fit for the community because they process health care claims.
TJC already has partnered with Centene to provide training for the company’s employees and a manager at Centene is on TJC’s committee for its new health care building, he said. Metke said Centene is a good fit for TJC as it becomes a medical training destination.
Centene will be the first large tenant in the new Tyler Business & Technology Park, a 150-acre lot being developed south of the new Earl Campbell Parkway and near the TJC West Campus.
Construction of the facility is expected to be completed by fall 2013, officials said.
The company has 66 employees working out of temporary quarters in the facility that formerly housed the Down Under Pub & Grub on Old Grande Boulevard.
Mayor Bass said attracting new jobs is different than the way it was 15 or 20 years ago.
“It’s very competitive,” she said, adding that companies today favor communities that offer incentives, such as tax abatements.
Phyllis Schneider, vice president of finance for the Tyler Economic Development Council, agreed. She said any incentives offered weren’t simply handed over without careful thought and consideration.
“We take it seriously since it is taxpayer dollars,” she said. “Our goal is to make the best economic development decisions we can. We feel like this is a good package and they like it.”
Centene Chairman President and CEO Michael F. Neidorff has said the company looks forward to further enhancing the economic climate in Tyler.
Centene provides health care-related services to organizations and individuals. The Tyler facility will be an integral part of the company’s national managed care system, processing claims from physicians, hospitals and other health care providers.
“We had a rough economy for the last four years,” Mayor Bass said. “This will benefit the entire East Texas area.”