BROWNSVILLE, Texas – State Rep. Alex Dominguez is in talks to bring a $5 billion electric car manufacturing and assembling operation to Brownsville.

The Brownsville lawmaker announced preliminary details at a news conference held at the Port of Brownsville by Texas A&M University to unveil a $10 million RGV Advanced Manufacturing/Training Innovation Now (TRAIN) program.

The program aims to provide 10,000 workers with the skills they need to work in advanced manufacturing over the next two years. Thereafter, Texas A&M will look for funding from the Texas Legislature to make it an ongoing program.

“Most people don’t know this but I can probably share a little bit about it. There is a company, a startup that is looking at potentially creating a $5 billion investment to create a manufacturing facility,” Dominguez said from the podium.

“They said the only thing holding Brownsville back from being in the top two is the lack of training for manufacturing. And the reason we are still in that discussion is because of this hub.”

State Rep. Alex Dominguez, D-Brownsville.

The hub Dominguez was referring to is Texas A&M’s RGV Advanced Manufacturing/Training Innovation Now (TRAIN) program.

“So, because of the visionaries like Mike Hernandez and the patient people that listen to him like Chancellor Sharp and most importantly the champions like Senator Lucio and Representative Eddie Lucio, III, who have been fighting for such a center, that is why Brownsville is in the heat of it with other cities that offer greater incentives and other states as well,” Dominguez told an audience full of elected officials, industry and education leaders.

“This shows what happens when governments, our educational facilities and private industry work together.”

Hernandez is a Brownsville native, a Texas A&M University System regent, and the driving force behind the advanced manufacturing training initiative. Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp gave the keynote speech at the news conference. Along with Sharp and Hernandez, other speakers at the news conference included Brownsville Navigation District (BND) board chairman Sergio Tito Lopez, the Texas Workforce Commission’s commissioner for labor, Julian Alvarez, state Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., and state Rep. Eddie Lucio, III. The emcee was BND Port Director Eddie Campirano.

Dominguez gave more details about the $5 billion electric car manufacturing and assembly plant project in an exclusive interview with the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service.

“I have been in talks for about three months now with a startup that builds electric vehicles. They are looking at a place to build a $5 billion manufacturing and assembling plant. They want to do it in the U.S. They want to do it in Texas. But, Missouri and Arizona are also in the mix,” Dominguez told the Rio Grande Guardian.

“Brownsville was not on the map prior to my discussions with them. Once I showed them what we have to offer, including square footage, availability and a workforce they became very excited, especially with the ties that Brownsville has to the different car part manufacturers throughout the Valley and the northern part of Mexico. They are excited and they are thinking about it. So we are in the preliminary stages of discovering the locality.”

Texas A&M University System Regent Mike Hernandez, state Sen. Eddie Lucio, Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp, state Rep. Eddie Lucio, III, state Rep. Alex Dominguez, Brownsville Navigation District Chairman Sergio Tito Lopez, and Texas Workforce Commission Commissioner Julian Alvarez.

Asked if landing the electric car manufacturing and assembling plant was dependent on the new A&M advanced manufacturing training center, Dominguez said:

“The advantages the other locations have is a well-trained workforce for this type of manufacturing which Brownsville currently does not have. So, they would try to reduce costs by having a trained workforce here. Otherwise they would have to import that workforce. But what we want is to train our workforce so they can work there. It would be a facility to rival any of the major manufacturers throughout the country such as those at Detroit.”

Dominguez said there is no reason Brownsville and the wider Rio Grande Valley region cannot compete for such major manufacturing plants.

“When we look at what South Texas has to offer with SpaceX providing job training and creating jobs, the Port of Brownsville doing the same thing, and now this potential other industry, which is separate from the steel company that is looking to come down here, we could really talk about cutting our unemployment rate in South Texas in half. And really provide the opportunity for lots of families to achieve the American Dream.”

Asked for his thoughts on the RGV Advanced Manufacturing/Training Innovation Now (TRAIN) program, Dominguez said: “This hub is a Godsend. It is manna from heaven to allow our young men and women a competitive advantage to get training for jobs that exist down here in South Texas and we think that will bring industry down to South Texas like we have never had before.”

Editor’s Note: The above news story is the first in a two-part series on Texas A&M University’s plans to build an advanced manufacturing training center at the Port of Brownsville. Part Two of the series will be posted in our next edition.