Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 11.48.14 AMThis has been in the works for awhile, with the firm applying for state tax incentives months ago.

Venkat-Sharma-2210781-220
Venkat Sharma

But this morning, the Mayor’s Office sent out a news release announcing the deal is a go … iHealth Solutions is moving to downtown Louisville this summer from the Washington, D.C., area. iHealth Solutions is the latest company founded by longtime IT entrepreneur Venkat Sharma.

The bigger news may be where iHealth is going … into Meidinger Tower just north of Fourth Street and Muhammad Ali Boulevard, the 26-floor business tower that’s long had the highest vacancy rate — about 60 percent — of all the Class A spaces in the Central Business District.

This also appears to be a case of a startup finding that Class A space is suddenly affordable as Louisville backs away from the nearly 20-percent CBD vacancy rate of earlier this year.

iHealth, which provides technology and other services for medical records, as well as medical billing and claims processing services, plans to create 70 new jobs and invest $1.7 million, according to the release.

From the release, it looks like the bulk of operations currently are in India, where the company has 50 employees.

In 2013, our latest post about iHealth CEO Sharma, Sharma had just been named to the board of Passport Health Plan. At that time, he was the founder and CEO of iMedX Inc. According to media reports, he left iMedX in June 2013. iMedx – one of three companies he founded – is a health care software and services company that worked with about 50 hospitals nationwide.

Prior to founding iMedX in 2002, Sharma was the founder of Acorn Information Services Inc., a company that provided database marketing, analytics, and technology, primarily to the pharmaceutical industry.

The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority approved iHealth in June for tax incentives of up to $350,000 through the Kentucky Business Investment program. The incentives allow a company to keep a portion of its investment over the term of the agreement via corporate income tax credits and payroll rebates based on total investment and number of jobs created.

“iHealth is the perfect example of why we focus our business development efforts around our business clusters, as it fits into two of our areas of strength, lifelong wellness and aging care and business services,” stated Mayor Greg Fischer in the release. “In fact, more companies engaged in lifelong wellness and aging care are based in Louisville than anywhere else in the world. We know iHealth brings a needed service to our health industry and we look forward to working with them.”

The mayor’s release notes that the health care industry is “one of the largest in Louisville with more than 31,000 people currently employed in healthcare-related and occupations, while more than 13,000 are employed in healthcare support jobs.” Which sounds low. Norton Healthcare, for example, has at least 2,000 docs, mostly in Louisville.

Moreover, claims collections – high tech, or not – is an industry typically drawn to lower-wage cities.

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