In this year’s Metro Rankings Report, we’ve taken note of the crucial role exports are playing in the Recovery for many locations by charting their success in two of our rankings categories, Exports Growth Leaders and Exports Recovery Leaders. We've also included our Global Rankings within this story.
Locations across the country have made renewable energy central to their economic recovery strategies. The race is on to claim a leadership position in solar, wind, geothermal and biofuel generation and manufacturing.
Toyota Moving Tacoma Truck Production to San AntonioToyota Motor Corp. has announced that it will relocate production of the Tacoma pickup from a plant in California to its manufacturing facility in San Antonio by next summer. San Antonio and Bexar County officials estimate 100,000 Tacomas will be produced annually following a $100 million retooling at Toyota’s San Antonio campus. The Tacoma line will diversify the plant with a second vehicle and as many as 1,100 new jobs to the facility. It will also create new jobs at 21 on-site suppliers. The Japanese automaker has ended its relationship with a joint venture plant in the San Francisco Bay area as part of an effort to reduce excess production capacity. Toyota will stop making vehicles at the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. plant—its first manufacturing facility in the United States, which started in 1984 as a 50-50 business deal with General Motors—in March 2010. The relocation will return work at the San Antonio plant, which has the capacity to build about 200,000 Tundras annually, back to two shifts for the first time since it shuttered for three months last summer to sell off excess inventory. “This is what we wanted, a dual line to alternate with the Tundras,” a San Antonio Chamber of Commerce official said, according to wire service reports. “We had thought several years ago it might be the Highlander hybrid, but this plant and its workers have the flexibility to keep jobs strong there.” Temporary plant workers who had been laid off in San Antonio or those who applied for Tundra work and didn't get the job could be first in line for the new positions, Bexar County officials said. Toyota’s decision to end its 25-year relationship with the NUMMI plant, which also produces the Corolla, came nearly two months after GM said it was pulling out of the joint venture. It marks the first time the Japanese automaker has closed a plant, either at home or abroad. In the midst of the current recession Toyota announced the first quarterly losses in its 70-year history earlier this year. San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro said the announcement demonstrates the Texas city’s attractiveness to business looking for a skilled, low-cost workforce. “San Antonio is emerging as an economic powerhouse. This demonstrates the talent of the work force and the low cost of doing business in San Antonio, as well as a high level of public and private cooperation,” he said. The chief executive of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce also credited workers at the Tundra plant for paving the way for the announcement. San Antonio and Texas leaders began preparing an incentives package for Toyota several weeks before the relocation of truck production was announced. City and county officials said it includes a 10-year abatements on property taxes as well as state sales tax rebates on capital investments and new machinery to retool the plant. Additionally, Toyota could receive a $2,500 credit for every new hire from a “designated disadvantaged zone.”
Texas is bucking the economic trends and maintaining strong growth in income and employment.
Economic developers can leverage the benefits of FTZs to attract jobs and investment, while facilitating maintenance and expansion of their industrial base.
When it comes to innovation and a talented workforce, these are the locations that merit a close look.
With an economy growing three times faster than the national average, Texas may be the state for your next big move.
The Green Heart of Central TexasNestled in the center of Texas, the Greater Austin metropolitan area, comprised of 11 cities in five counties, is home to nearly 1.5 million people. During the last few years, this progressive capital city, already recognized as a center of technology innovation in a sophisticated cosmopolitan community, has been busy carving out a niché for itself in the clean technologies arena. With access to research institutions, talent, and incentives—and incubators and parks dedicated to clean technologies—Austin is positioned to become a global green leader.
A First for Texas: Clean Energy ParkEarlier this year, the Austin Chamber of Commerce and the Texas Foundation for Innovative Communities (TFIC) announced that Austin will be the location of the first Texas Clean Energy Park (TCEP). The first phase of the 140-acre development is a research park funded by a $600,000 grant from the Texas Workforce Commission. The second phase will be a business park for clean technology companies, such as the solar power company HelioVolt, which has the option to locate any of its research and development facilities and additional operations inside the park.
The National Biodiesel Board ranked Austin as having the highest concentration of retail biodiesel in the nation in 2006."The addition of the first Texas Clean Energy Park will provide excellent job growth opportunities for Austin as well as Central Texas," says Jose Beceiro, director of Clean Energy, Austin Chamber of Commerce. "Developing efficient new clean energy technologies side by side with innovative applications will be significant in fostering development of the clean energy industry." The TFIC will partner with research institutions across the country, corporations throughout the industry and other experts within the field in an effort to develop Texas' human resource and knowledge base. The addition of the TCEP raises the prospect of state and federal funding for talent and research development and brings in another positive asset for attracting clean energy companies from across the nation. "As anchor tenant in the TCEP's new facility, HelioVolt expects to be joined by academic and industrial partners in developing the future of smart, sustainable solar-powered architecture," says B.J. Stanbery, founder and CEO of HelioVolt.
Advanced Micro Devices' new Lone Star Campus in southwest Austin is striving for a Gold LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council through features including one of the largest roof-based rainwater collection and recycling systems in the world, as well as by using 100% renewable energy from Austin Energy's GreenChoice program and recycling 75% of waste from construction.Austin Energy's GreenChoice is the nation's largest and most successful retail renewable energy program delivering more than 665 million kilowatts of electricity annually to nearly 500 businesses, Austin Independent School District and Austin City Hall. The municipally-owned utility has ranked first in the nation for its Green Power Program by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory based on total renewable energy sales. Austin Energy has plans to build the renewables' share of Austin's energy portfolio to 30% by 2020 and to build solar power's share to 100 megawatts by 2020.
Austin's Clean Energy ClusterHere are some of the clean energy technology companies that already call Austin home: • Active Power's flywheel storage systems store kinetic energy for short-term backup power. • Austin Biofuels has joined with Triple S Petroleum to expand the supply of vegetable-oil based fuel. • AccuWater optimizes landscape irrigation using modeling and weather conditions. • CleanFUEL USA is a global manufacturer of alternative fuel equipment for both propane and E-85. • HelioVolt is a developer of solar-enabled power-generating building materials (BIPV). • Xtreme Power provides energy-conserving power systems. • TECO-Westinghouse Motor Co. produces next-generation technology for wind turbines at a facility in Round Rock.
The first annual Business Facilities State of the Year award has been presented to Texas.
The automotive sector continues to be one of the most successful industries in North America. But, global competition, emerging eco-trends, and innovations are changing the playing field.