Startup sinks its teeth into Antioch, investment could signal a brighter future

Nashville 2019

Bubbling with potential, a community poised for the possibility of a hot streak.  

Inside the Antioch Slim and Husky’s, a locally loved pizza shop with acclaim, patrons chew on more than award-winning pies. The restaurant has a hungry following, accustomed to the style and swagger of the brand.  

They’d like to see more of this in Antioch. The building brings in people, energy, a new vibe. 

The rest of this community is hopeful for more. Businesses are in bunches around this spot on Hickory Hollow, but it’s been a process. Down the road, Century Farms, 300 acres zoned for mixed-use development, has a way to go. 

The proverbial path is being paved with work on an I-24 interchange, enticing crucial investments from companies like Community Health Systems, which opened a six-story facility here in 2017.  

But now Metro leaders need more to follow.  

“Once that exit is improved, I assure you, more and more businesses will come,” says Antioch Councilwoman, Jacobia Dowell. 

Think box stores, retail, but ahead of the game, a game changer. 

“Everything here has a grin or a smile to it,” says Cheryl DeSantis, an executive with Smile Direct Club. 

A startup with a smile, based in Nashville with a “Smile Lab” on Bakertown Road in Antioch. 

“As we look to attract talent, we are finding Nashville is a critical part of that,” DeSantis says. 

Cheryl DeSantis walked us through Smile Direct Club’s headquarters downtown, where behind a grin, smiles are made here.  The company is investing more than $200 million into Music City, lighting up the job market, adding 2,000 to Middle Tennessee. 

“Software, engineering and technology, marketing, sales,” she explains.  

DeSantis is the Chief People Officer. She’s hired 1,800 employees since January 1. Using 3-D printers, she says the ‘Smile Lab’ in Antioch churns out 50,000 aligners a day. They’re rapidly selling better smiles and bringing even more to the faces of those in the Antioch area. 

“When we looked at that location it was in great proximity to downtown where we have our corporate headquarters,” says DeSantis. “We knew we wanted to invest, build and grow more in that area as we expand and meet customer demand.” 

The product promises a straighter smile. It’s said to get there faster. Antioch’s focus, and future, is a desire to mirror that model, attract more of this kind of investment, and with a smirk, secure the next, long term partnership. 

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