CHAPEL HILL — Health care IT firm Well Dot is setting up its $3.1 million headquarters on Chapel Hill’s Franklin Street, creating 400 jobs.
The state will provide nearly $3.9 million in incentives through a Job Development Investment Grant, which rebates part of the state withholding taxes if the company meets annual hiring and investment targets over a 12-year period. Chapel Hill and Orange County are chipping in another $981,000 in incentives.
The company’s primary office will be at 419 W. Franklin St., which formerly housed a Chrysler dealership and then a Carolina Ale House. It will eventually expand into the building down the street that houses the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau.
Well is a start-up that works with patients one on one to help them get healthier. The company’s founders met at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and said they’re glad to be back in town.
“One of our biggest challenges in Orange County is we grow these wonderful kids at UNC, they come up with these amazing ideas, and then they split,” said Penny Rich, chairwoman of the Orange County Board of Commissioners.
Although wages will vary depending on position, the average salary for all the positions will reach $63,020. The Orange County average wage is $46,112.
Orange County has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state at 2.9 percent – well below the 4 percent state average. But Gov. Roy Cooper defended the decision to offer incentives to lure new jobs to the county. Chapel Hill was competing with Boston for Well’s headquarters.
“When you’re talking about jobs that average over $63,000 when the average in the county is $46,000, that’s a net positive,” Cooper said. “It adds to the tax base. We want to create as many good-paying jobs as we can.”
Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger said Well will become one of the town’s largest private employers, and it likely will partner with UNC-Chapel Hill and UNC Health Care.
The firm recently launched its proprietary, AI-driven “health engine,” which engages with a client’s employees through a phone-based app. It sends them reminders, offers clinical and behavioral health tools and connects them with services and on-demand experts. It also includes a personalized 21-day health journey with rewards and tips.
“We are unique in the way we are empowering and incenting individuals to engage in their health by leveraging data, technology and a high-touch delivery approach,” Gary Loveman, Well’s co-founder, chairman and chief executive, said in a statement.
Loveman is a former CEO for Caesars Entertainment Corp. and president of consumer health at the insurer Aetna Inc. Well co-founder and Chief Operating Officer David Werry also worked for Aetna.
Earlier this year, Well raised $25 million in a seed funding round. The primary investors were General Catalyst, John Doerr, Partners from Hellman & Friedman and Mosaic Health Solutions, a division of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina. Loveman, Werry and the leadership team also invested in the round.