By LANDON WOODROOF
Health care technology will soon join health care management as a major employer in Middle Tennessee thanks to a plan announced Thursday for Philips to create approximately 800 jobs at a new center of expertise in the greater Nashville area.
“It’s no secret that Nashville has long been a healthcare hub,” Gov. Bill Haslam said at the state capitol. “We’re famous around the world for that. One of the things that has started to happen is that people are starting to think, well this area can be a home for a lot more. We have long thought that, particularly, health care technology was a natural for this area.”
Philips Global Services Leader for North America Craig Gruchacz said the new center of expertise would consolidate a number of different positions in the area.
“We’re gonna bring in certain key functions in information technology, finance, human resources, procurement, customer service operations as well as commercial service operations,” Gruchacz said.
Gruchacz spoke a little bit about common public perceptions of Philips.
“Many of you may associate Philips with consumer products such as televisions or lighting technology,” he said.
While Philips is a household name in those areas, Gruchacz highlighted the longstanding work the company has done in the healthcare industry as well.
He said, for instance, 85 percent of Tennessee hospitals use at least one piece of Philips imaging or ultrasound equipment.
Gruchacz pointed to several inter-related reasons for Philips’s move to Nashville.
“It’s the business environment, the climate and the healthcare ecosystem you’ve created here,” he said.
It has not been determined yet where exactly in the greater Nashville area Philips will establish its new office. Gruchacz said the company was currently scouting sites and should make a decision within the next few months.
“To employ 800 people you need a pretty good size facility,” he said.
Several key officials representing Williamson County were recognized by Gov. Haslam at the beginning of the presentation Thursday. They were Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson, Sen. Jack Johnson, Rep. Glen Casada, Rep. Sam Whitson and Rep. Charles Sargent. Also recognized were several elected officials from Nashville, including Mayor Megan Barry, Rep. Beth Harwell, Rep. Jason Powell and Rep. Bill Beck.
Gruchacz said the hiring process for the Nashville area would begin in the next two months and within two years all 800 positions should be filled. The company already has roughly 140 to 150 employees divided between Nashville and Franklin, Gruchacz said.
Williamson Inc. President and CEO Matt Largen was at the announcement Thursday. He said his organization was involved in trying to make Williamson County the site of Philips’s new offices.
“We are actively trying to convince them to make that location in Williamson County, knowing at the same time it will benefit us regardless,” he said.
That is because even if the offices are located nearby the county, the county would still reap the rewards of the influx of employees, many of whom, he said would become involved in Williamson County life.
“Their employees will live in Williamson County, their employees will shop in Williamson County, some of their employees will become the fabric of our community regardless of whether the company locates here or not,” he said. “All that is to say, of course, we prefer it to come to Williamson County, but we’re thrilled of the benefit they’ll provide to the Nashville region.”
More than that, Largen was also excited at the caliber of the positions Philips will create in the region.
“More than anything these aren’t just 800 jobs, these are 800 careers,” he said. “And that’s a difference. Philips is bringing the kind of jobs that allows our residents to have careers.”
Although Philips’s global headquarters is in Amsterdam, Gruchacz said the company was as American as it was global. He said, for instance, that America was the company’s biggest market, accounting for $6.3 billion. Additionally, he said the company employees more than 17,000 people in 90 different sales and manufacturing locations in 19 states.
He said Philips was looking forward to cooperating with others to improve health care in the country.
“Health care is complicated, and no single company can address the U.S. health care system alone,” he said. “We need to work together. We need to unlock the collective genius of data, technology and the most important asset, people.”
Haslam was more than happy Philips chose Nashville as a place to work toward that goal.
“I can’t think of a better company than Philips to complement and support Nashville’s regional healthcare community,” he said.