Monday, May 28, 2012

Brownsville eating our Manufacturing lunch

Trico wipers made in Brownsville, Tx : wiping the floor with Laredo ?

"Ten years ago our base of automotive suppliers stopped expanding," explains Gilberto Salinas, executive vice president, of the Brownsville Economic Development Council. The city's leaders decided to target large-sized multinational companies given its international presence, Salinas says.

"Now we are bursting at the seams," he says. The company's top 10 planned projects total $5.5 billion with upwards of 4,000 jobs being created., Salinas says.

In the past year, the Brownsville area has attracted $67 million in investment, including a new plant operated by CK Technologies, a trucking part manufacturer. Matamoros also saw a $49 million investment by Hauppauge, N.Y.-based Spellman High Voltage.

The location of the city and its easy access to the global market is why Keppel AmFELS also chose Brownsville. "As a division of Keppel Corp., the world's biggest builder of oil platforms, we were looking for a U.S. port location to service the mobile drilling rigs and platforms," says G.S. Tan, CEO, Keppel AmFELS. "It was a good decision as we continue to grow. The support at all government levels has been key to our continued success."

Government support also was a significant factor in CK Technologies' decision to locate in Brownsville. "We did an exhaustive search, and the ease of doing business with the state and local governments was a determining factor," says Mark Miller, CEO, CK Technologies. The company also received $1.3 million in incentives through cash, tax abatements and training dollars.

In addition, manufactureres have also  benefited from the region's steady workforce, Kennedy says. "We have found that given the small-town, family-oriented characteristic of Brownsville, our workforce is very loyal," he says. "People want to stay here and that translates to very low turnover for us"  said Martin Kennedy, managing director of the Americas for Trico, which manufactures nearly 40 million windshield wipers per year for 24 global automakers.

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