Major healthcare company could bring hundreds of jobs to Austin

FILE - In this Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014, file photo, a person walks through a Merck company building, in Kenilworth, N.J. Merck reports financial results Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)
FILE - In this Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014, file photo, a person walks through a Merck company building, in Kenilworth, N.J. Merck reports financial results Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A big name in healthcare could be moving to Austin and bringing 600 jobs with an average salary of $84,000. Thursday, Austin City Council decided to provide some big incentives to encourage Merck to set up shop in the city.

It’s the latest big name company that has its sights set on Austin where company officials say they want to set up an information technology hub. Essentially, they want to invest $28 million in the city over 10 years to create and develop applications for better health and lifestyle decisions. City council approved a $856,000 incentive package to cover that time period. How it works is, the company would receive periodic payments for meeting certain benchmarks, like the number of people they hire, using local contractors and having a diverse staff.

Both Merck and city officials think a lot more than 600 jobs will be created because other companies will move to Austin to work with Merck and the company will contract with other businesses that often utilize more middle-skilled workers. One of the big commitments Merck is promising is to work with local universities to prepare students for jobs with the company.

“They are looking to work with groups like Austin Community College, Huston Tillotson, St. Edwards and of course the University of Texas and how it is they can grow that local talent supply so over that ten year period of the agreement they can hire people who are in 7th and 8th grade today,” says David Colligan, Merck’s Global Business Expansion manager.

Merck has plans to move in to the city immediately and begin constructing a permanent facility in 2018 in the central business district or the Dell Medical Innovation Zone with an expected completion of 2020. The company is, however, considering several cities across the country for their new facility.

This is the second time in three years the city has voted on providing a company an incentive to expand to Austin. In 2014, Athena Health, Websense and Dropbox were part of the city’s first ever economic incentive proposal. All three moved to the city. City officials are now looking to expand Austin’s food and fashion industry – but no specific deals have been worked out yet.

Merck could look to hire almost immediately.

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