TBB: McAllen EDC close to landing two big technology companies

MCALLEN, Texas – The Rio Grande Guardian’s good friend at Texas Border Business, Roberto Gonzalez, is reporting that the McAllen Economic Development Corporation is close to landing two big technology companies. 

Gonzalez was the only reporter present when Keith Partridge, president and CEO of McAllen EDC, spoke at a recent McAllen Citizens League event. 

“Patridge is leading the charge to make McAllen a hub for various industries and announced that the city of McAllen is nearing the announcement of a high-tech company moving into the region,” Gonzalez wrote.

Later, Patridge referenced his organization’s efforts to land to two technology-based companies.

Roberto Gonzalez of Texas Border Business.

“Patridge expressed excitement about two impending projects that would occupy around 200 acres of land, adding 1.5 million square feet of space, and creating approximately 2,500 to 3,000 jobs. Both projects are technology-based, with one already seeking zoning approvals, and the other working with Austin to secure incentives,” Gonzalez wrote.

“The incentive under discussion is related to a defunct program, known as the 313, which allowed local school districts to defer a portion of their budget in exchange for a company setting up within their district. The state reimbursed the districts for the loss incurred. With this program ending in December last year, the focus is now on House Bill 5, which will potentially attract larger manufacturing companies.”

Since TBB went to press, House Bill 5, otherwise known as the Texas Jobs, Energy, Technology and Innovation Act, the has not only passed the Legislature, it has been signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott.

So, the Boston-based company looking for the tax incentives could be ready to make a decision. The company is believed to have whittled down its preferred locations to just two, one in the McAllen-Mission area and the other outside of Texas. A decision on which one wins out is slated to occur soon.

The capital investment of the solar power component plant is believed to be over $1 billion. It will need about 1,200,000 square feet of manufacturing space and 1,500 skilled workers.

“The new company on the horizon is a cutting-edge firm, set to become the largest and only commercial manufacturer of its product outside of China. This move, supported by the local government, will further boost McAllen’s industrial capacity,” Gonzalez wrote.

The company, the Rio Grande Guardian has learned, plans to manufacture silicon wafers. Silicon wafers are a key piece of the solar industry supply chain, and China currently controls 97 percent of it.

Patridge said quality of life issues are important when a company of this size makes a decision on location, along with educational opportunities. 

“He (Patridge) said that one of the companies that he mentioned is already sending people to look at moving here. They’re coming from the east coast. He said that for the newcomers, two things were critical, education, and then what’s the community like as a place to live. He pointed out that one of them was a general manager that will run the plant,” Gonzalez wrote.

“In addition, he (Patridge) said that the last group that came in was a young family, probably in their mid-30s. His wife is an attorney and coming from Boston and they came in and they have three little girls, seven, five, and two. Well, guess what the most important thing to them was: education.”

The McAllen Chamber of Commerce praised Patridge for his presentation to the McAllen Citizens League.

“We extend our heartfelt appreciation to McAllen Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Keith Patridge for delivering an enlightening and informative session at this month’s McAllen Citizens League meeting. His valuable insights and updates on the city’s economic growth and development were truly inspiring,” the Chamber stated on Facebook.

House Bill 5 

HB 5 was authored by state Rep. Todd Hunter of Corpus Christi. One of its coauthors was state Rep. Oscar Longoria of La Joya. 

The Texas Association of Business praised Gov. Abbott for signing House Bill 5 into law.

“By signing HB 5, Governor Greg Abbott gave Texas communities an edge over the competition. History shows economic development incentives are the deal sealers for big time manufacturing projects. On top of a low tax, light regulatory environment, a highly skilled workforce, and a robust infrastructure, Chapter 403 will help win jobs and investments for Texas communities,” said TAB CEO Glenn Hamer.

TAB Board Chairman Massey Villarreal attended the Governor’s bill signing ceremony for HB 5. TAB was one of over 260 organizations, including more than 100 chambers of commerce, and McAllen EDC, that supported HB 5. 

“In addition to the extraordinary leadership of the bill author, Chairman Todd Hunter, the business community thanks Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, Speaker Dade Phelan, Chairman Charles Schwertner, and Representative Hugh Shine for their leadership and dedication to securing a job-creating economic development tool for Texas communities,” a TAB press release stated.

“HB 5 establishes a new, transparent and accountable economic development incentive program, Chapter 403. The program focuses on manufacturing facilities related to semiconductors, aerospace, pharmaceuticals, automotive, and the energy industry (from carbon capture to natural gas). Chapter 403 caps a property’s value at 50 percent but can be increased to 75 percent if the project is to be located in a federally designated opportunity zone. Participants must create a certain number of jobs based on the size of the project; meet the eligibility guidelines; and adhere to reporting requirements,” the press release added.

Texas CHIPS Act

In addition to signing HB 5 into law, Abbott also signed off on House Bill 5174, which is otherwise known as the Texas CHIPS Act. The bill was authored by state Rep. Greg Bonnen, R-Friendswood. The legislation aims to bolster the state’s position nationally and internationally in the semiconductor industry. It creates a state fund and a consortium with representatives from Texas higher education institutions.

At the bill signing ceremony, Abbott said:

“Texas ranks No. 1 in the United States for semiconductor manufacturing and for the expansion of the semiconductor industry. With the bill that I’m about to sign, Texas will even more bolster our position nationally and internationally when it comes to semiconductors. This bill creates the Texas Semiconductor Innovation Consortium and the Texas Semiconductor Innovation Fund. It leverages the federal Chips Act money to promote on-shoring microchip production. The consortium is responsible for leveraging the expertise of Texas’ higher education institutions, some of which are gathered with us here today. And their focus is to develop a comprehensive strategic plan. 

“The bill also focuses on sustaining Texas is leadership in semiconductor research, design and manufacturing, attracting public and private investment or the semiconductor industry, identifying and expanding workforce training opportunities and establishing a forum for stakeholders to focus on education, research and development and commercial production of semiconductors. The fund can provide state matching funds for private entities with an established presence in Texas to encourage economic development related to manufacturing and design of semiconductor microchips. 

“Bottom line is Texas already has paved the pathway for us to be No. 1 in the country. This bill expands that pathway to ensure that Texas will be leading the way for semiconductors for decades to come.”

The Texas CHIPS Act builds upon the federal CHIPS and Science Act, otherwise known as H.R. 4346. U.S. Reps. Vicente Gonzalez and Henry Cuellar voted for this legislation.

Gonzalez said the CHIPS and Science Act will ensure that America continues to lead in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) by investing in semiconductor manufacturing as well as the Manufacturing Extension Partnership and Manufacturing USA programs. 

He said the legislation will also create and build a strong, diverse STEM workforce ready to address the vulnerabilities in the supply chain and bolster American research and development to tackle the problems of tomorrow. 

“This is legislation is sorely needed to revitalize the American workforce and assure the United States remains competitive in the global market,” Gonzalez said. “I am proud to join my colleagues in voting for this bill that will bolster domestic manufacturing and secure our supply chain to bring down prices and bring jobs home.” 

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