Centene Corp. is coming to Tyler, opening its third insurance customer claims center in the nation and creating more than 300 local jobs, Tyler officials learned Friday.
Gov. Rick Perry announced the state is investing $1.3 million through the Texas Enterprise Fund in Centene Corp. to open the center in Tyler. Contingent upon completion of a local incentive package, Centene will bring new jobs and $15 million in capital investment.
“We’re happy about the announcement,” Tyler Economic Development Council CEO Tom Mullins said. “We’re hoping this will be a major shot in the arm for the west side of Tyler and attract more growth to that area.”
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 Tyler Junior College West Campus.
The Earl Campbell Parkway, paid for with about $14 million in half-cent sales tax, is under construction and expected to be finished about August
He said the company will build a 50,000-square-foot, two-story building for its offices and a 10,000-square-foot building for a day care center for its employees. He hopes they will break ground on the project in June.
For up to two years while the facilities are being constructed, the business will rent office space in Tyler. The facility that formerly housed the Down Under Pub & Grub on Old Grande Boulevard has been renovated and will be used for Centene operations, he said.
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.
Mullins said some call what Centene is bringing to Tyler a call center, but it is much more than that. It is an insurance customer claims center and is the company’s third in the United States, with locations in Missouri and Montana. Mullins said Texas is one of the company’s fastest-growing regions, so a center was needed. The Tyler facility will serve 16 states, he added.
Mullins said the average salary for the company’s 300 employees in Tyler will be about $45,000. The center will be managing and processing insurance claims, and its workforce will be made up of people mostly in IT, marketing and customer-service positions, he said.
After getting negative news this year — with Carrier and the U.S. Postal Service laying off workers and shuttering local facilities by 2014 — he hopes Centene bringing in 300 jobs will offset those expected losses of employment.
Mayor Barbara Bass said the city is looking forward to having Centene as a new corporate citizen that will bring quality jobs here.
In 2003, the Texas Legislature created the Texas Enterprise Fund and has re-appropriated funding in every legislative session since then to help ensure the growth of Texas businesses and create more jobs throughout the state, the governor’s office reported. Projects must be approved by the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the House. The fund has since become one of the state’s most competitive tools to recruit and bolster business. To date, the fund has invested more than $466.8 million and closed the deal on projects generating 63,086 new jobs and more than $21.4 billion in capital investment in the state.
“Here in Texas, we’ve fostered an economic environment that allows employers to create jobs and opportunity by keeping taxes low and regulations predictable, and making sure our courts are fair and our workforce is skilled and educated,” Perry said. “Texas Enterprise Fund investments like this one in Centene help provide jobs for Texans and capital investment across our state.”