KYLE, Texas (KXAN) — Governor Greg Abbott announced Tuesday that SmileDirectClub, a teledentistry company based in Nashville, will be bringing a new high-tech dental manufacturing lab to Kyle.
The new manufacturing lab is expected to create 850 new jobs.
Kyle city leaders called it the biggest economic development project the city’s ever landed.
“This is not going to be a distribution center with 50 minimum wage jobs, said Kyle Mayor Travis Mitchell. “This is going to be a massive capital improvement, heavy, high wage job-type facility.”
By next month, the Nashville-based company hopes to be hiring employees.
“After the announcement today, we can look forward to posting jobs hopefully tomorrow,” said SmileDirect Club Global Head of Supply Chain Dan Baker. “We’ve got a really aggressive timeline to start manufacturing here in February next year, so we need to get busy hiring and training and getting people on the ground.”
Employees will undergo a few months of training before the company begins manufacturing in February.
“The fact that it’s an empty shell and in the right place, very well-connected on I-35, means that this is an ideal location and one that we can build out really quickly to hit that aggressive timeline,” Baker said of the warehouse space already in place.
The warehouse space was a strategic move on the city of Kyle’s part.
“It took a lot of arm twisting and convincing to get developers to really commit to speculative industrial space in Kyle,” said Diana Torres, the city of Kyle’s Economic Development Director.
The city convinced a developer to build the warehouse on an old ranch right off the interstate. Its location between Austin and San Antonio makes it more attractive.
If all goes well with Smile Direct Club’s lease, Torres says the developer will build another, similar-sized warehouse next door.
“We’re really aggressively going out to attract those companies that are quality companies, that can bring us quality jobs,” Torres said.
The city says SmileDirect Club’s median salary will be $40,000 at the Kyle facility. City leaders say that’s better than average in Kyle.
The city hopes similar opportunities will encourage residents to work where they live and cut down road congestion.
“We have over 80% of our population that is leaving to go to work every day, and we’re really not content with that,” Torres said.
The Hays Consolidated School District is also expected to benefit from the SmileDirect manufacturing lab.
The company will use 3-D printers. It’s in talks with local leaders about internships and youth programs that would give students exposure to 3-D printing.
For the next eight years, SmileDirect Club will receive incentives for coming to Kyle.
The city of Kyle will invest an estimated $659,799, with an expected net benefit of $5,234,235. Hays County will provide an estimated $474,992 in incentives, expecting to receive a net benefit of $1,781,183.
The state of Texas is also giving the company a $2,215,000 grant from the Texas Enterprise Fund.
“I am pleased that SmileDirectClub has chosen Kyle as their home base for Access Dental Lab TX, and I look forward to the prosperity and success that their investment will bring to the entire Lone Star State,” Governor Abbott said in a press release. “This exciting new expansion will bring even greater economic prosperity for this community, and the job creation and capital investment spurred by this announcement will create even more economic opportunities for Texans.”
The Texas Enterprise Fund was created as a financial incentive for companies to choose Texas over other states for new projects. Similar to SmileDirectClub, Apple received $21 million from the fund to create 3,600 jobs in Austin when they expanded.
The Enterprise Fund and similar incentive programs have been criticized in the past as corporate welfare. In 2017 Sen. Konni Burton, R-Colleyville filed bills to abolish the Texas Enterprise Fund and the Major Events Trust Fund.