BROWNSVILLE, RGV – If you thought 2014 was a great year for Brownsville with SpaceX’s announcement of a rocket launching station, just wait for 2015.
That is the message from Brownsville Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Jason Hilts. Appearing on NewsTalk 710 KURV, Hilts said Brownsville is close to landing a big manufacturing project that will generate upwards of 3,000 high-paying jobs.
“We are expecting a much better year in 2015. We have several projects that we have been working on, basically in the same time frame as we have been working on SpaceX, other types of projects,” Hilts said.
“We are expecting an announcement sometime in the first quarter for an operation that could possibly bring upwards of 3,000 jobs to the region in the manufacturing sector.”
Naturally enough, Hilts did not want to give too much away about the manufacturing project for fear of jeopardizing negotiations. However, he has told reporters in the past that the project is not related to SpaceX and that the manufacturer has not been lured in anticipation of SpaceX.
“We have had some very high level meetings with their clients and their customers. This has been driven by a customer and this is involving foreign investment from Europe. We are talking at the state level. All of our talks are moving forward nicely. The client has to make a decision soon to be able to fulfill the needs to the clients. So, everything is looking good,” Hilts told KURV.
“We are still in competition for this project with Monterrey, Mexico. But I think we have been competing very well and we are very hopeful that this is going to happen. We are talking very good, high paying manufacturing jobs.”
Hilts confirmed that in order to land the manufacturing company, the State of Texas has offered an incentives package allied to the Texas Enterprise Fund. He said Brownsville EDC has been working with state leaders at a fast pace because there will be a change in leadership in Austin next month and he does not want to lose momentum.
“We have been in contact with the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, the Speaker of the House, our local Valley delegation as well. We are pushing this forward because we have a limited time left before a new administration comes in. It is always good to get things done before that new administration comes in because there is a learning curve after that,” Hilts said.
“I think our drop dead date is January 20,” he added, referring to the date Governor Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick leave office and Governor-elect Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov.-elect Dan Patrick are sworn into office.
With regard to SpaceX, Hilts said other related businesses are starting to consider move to Brownsville.
“We have had numerous other companies that have committed to or will begin operations in Brownsville this year including one that is a certified supplier to SpaceX. In fact they are having their grand opening in January. They are showing off the new facilities they have constructed. A company called Paragon D&E,” Hilts said.
Asked where things are at with SpaceX, Hilts said: “From our understanding they are finishing their engineering drawings and they are meeting with contractors and they are looking to start construction of their launch site sometime in January or at least in the first quarter of 2015.”