By Ed Felton
From the March/April 2015 issue
First Data Corp.’s TeleCheck Services division is moving into 90,000 square feet in the Sugar Creek on the Lake office building on Southwest Freeway in Sugar Land.
The Fortune 500 company decided to relocate its TeleCheck headquarters to a renovated facility previously occupied by Unocal in Sugar Land after a comprehensive evaluation of other regional opportunities. An incentive package was created by the City’s Office of Economic Development and approved by the Sugar Land Development Corporation to secure the relocation, which will bring an estimated $10 million in investment and add 600 new jobs during a 10-year period.
“We are delighted to have selected Sugar Land as the home of our new offices,” said Mark Wallin, who heads First Data’s TeleCheck business. “We look forward to many years of growth in this outstanding facility.”
“We are thrilled to welcome First Data’s TeleCheck offices to Sugar Land,” said Mayor James Thompson. “Not only does this relocation reflect the robust Class A office market in Sugar Land—which is now approximately 90 percent occupied—and the millions of private dollars invested in the building by PMRG, but it is also a direct reflection of Sugar Land’s presence as a regional employment center within the Houston metropolitan region.”
First Data is a global technology leader in the financial services industry. With 24,000 employee-owners and operations in 35 countries, the company provides secure and innovative payment technology and services to more than six million merchants and financial institutions around the world, from small businesses to the world’s largest corporations.
The City of Sugar Land and the Sugar Land Development Corporation also recently approved an agreement to support expansion plans by Applied Optoelectronics, Inc. (AOI) that will potentially bring more than $30 million in investments, retain 235 jobs and add 530 new jobs during a 10-year period.
Given the foreseeable growth in laser components in the markets AOI serves, the company plans to expand its headquarters and build new research and development and manufacturing facilities, totaling approximately 111,600 square feet. The new facilities will be located adjacent to AOI’s existing building in the Sugar Land Business Park. Construction is expected to be completed later this year.
The company decided to expand its facilities in Sugar Land after evaluating options overseas.
“We have experienced significant growth in the markets we serve and are excited to expand our facilities and production capacity in Sugar Land,” said Dr. Thompson Lin, AOI founder and chief executive officer.
Due to the significant capital investment and job creation, a multi-faceted incentive package was created by the City’s Office of Economic Development and approved by both City Council and the Sugar Land Development Corporation to secure the retention and expansion of AOI’s office and manufacturing presence in Sugar Land.
“Having begun at the University of Houston by developing lasers for military and space applications, AOI’s continued success and its position as a global industry leader is a prime example of the positive local economic impact that can result when a community provides access to higher education and encourages a strong entrepreneurial spirit,” Mayor Thompson said. “We could not be prouder that AOI has chosen to expand its corporate headquarters in Sugar Land, and we look forward to seeing the company’s continued growth and success in the future.”
DOUGLAS STEEL SUPPLY EXPANDS IN EL PASO
Douglas Steel Supply will be expanding its steel service centers to a new facility in El Paso, TX which will create 55 new positions and bring $3 million worth of new investments to the region.
“I want to welcome Douglas Steel Supply to El Paso and thank the management team for choosing to do business in El Paso,” said El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser. “With [this] announcement, we continue on our mission to attract new businesses and investments to the community, create competitive jobs and grow our economy.”
With satellite facilities in Arizona, Idaho and headquarters in California, the addition of the El Paso facility will build on Douglas Steel Supply’s profile as a unique processor of mill flat sheet, slit coils and state of the art blanking—all processed in-house. The company services industry groups such as commercial and precision metal stampers, computer cabinetry and electronic enclosure manufacturers, home hardware producers, steel office furniture manufacturers and all commercial and precision metal fabricators.
“The addition of Douglas Steel Supply’s new facility is a sign that we are attracting diverse businesses and investors to the Borderplex region—ranging from manufacturing companies to financial service providers and now metal service centers. As we continue strengthening our economic competitiveness, diversifying our region’s supplier base will only make us more attractive to the global business community,” said Rolando Pablos, CEO of The Borderplex Alliance, which played a key role in helping bring Douglas Steel Supply to the region.
Roger Seaman, Vice President of Operations for Douglas Steel Supply, said the site selection decision ultimately came down to opportunity. “El Paso provides our company with great opportunities to connect with industries that are on this side of the border and with those across the border, such as industries in Ciudad Juarez that rely on our metal services,” Seaman said.
ADP recently announced it will nearly double the workforce at its existing operations in El Paso, adding 1,100 jobs. Additionally, ADP will invest $41 million in capital investment to construct a second building at the ADP campus.
ADP’s expansion will have an overall estimated impact to the El Paso economy of more than $653 million. “I want to extend my gratitude to Jenn Ryan and her team in New Jersey for their commitment to continuing to invest in El Paso,” said Mayor Oscar Leeser.
ADP first opened its El Paso facility in 2006; in less than 10 years, the company has become one of the city’s leading corporate partners. Through collaborations with Fort Bliss, the University of Texas at El Paso, and various other community organizations, ADP and its employees have fully integrated into the community. The El Paso facility for ADP serves ADP clients across North America.
“Our expansion is an expression of our faith and confidence in the labor market in El Paso. At ADP we’re proud to shine the light on El Paso for all of the right reasons; the promise we see in the people we hire and the community partnerships we have cultivated and grown,” said Terry McGreehan, ADP Vice President and General Manager.
ADP is a premier provider of global human capital management solutions that unite payroll, HR, talent, time, tax and benefits administration and regulatory compliance. Among the regional partners that collaborate with ADP to ensure the region’s economic ecosystem is thriving is the Borderplex Alliance, which aggressively promotes local assets and human capital to attract Fortune 100 & 500 companies.
“The Borderplex Alliance applauds ADP for this multi-million-dollar investment in El Paso, which will certainly strengthen our regional economy,” said Borderplex Alliance CEO Rolando Pablos.
LEDA PARTNERS WITH TEXAS TECH ON ENTREPRENEURSHIP
In conjunction with the Lubbock Economic Development Alliance’s (LEDA) new strategic plan and Texas Tech University’s commitment to advancement in innovation and entrepreneurship, LEDA President/CEO John Osborne recently announced a $255,000 grant to support four programs developed and administered by Texas Tech to strengthen Lubbock’s entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem.
The programs are focused on providing opportunities for students and Lubbock citizens to learn alongside mentors utilizing new innovations from across all academic colleges and disciplines of the components of the Texas Tech University System. The four programs supported by LEDA will be:
- Three-Day Startup: Two, three-day intensive workshops in which mentors teach students about starting a business
- Texas Tech Innovation Mentorship & Entrepreneurship (TTIME): Funding for student-led pitch competitions as guided by mentors
- Accelerator: Seed grants for selected accelerator business startup teams which will be selected by the Accelerator selection committee
- Presidential Innovation Commercialization Awards: Funding in the initial year to purchase equipment for the Research Park Building, and each year thereafter to offset a company’s costs of rental and equipment, given at the discretion of the President
“We are delighted to participate in the development of this new ecosystem with Texas Tech University,” Osborne said. “A recent study by the University showed that more than 4,000 students wanted to learn more about becoming an entrepreneur. This ecosystem will provide that learning environment for students and people in our community to create successful small businesses, and thus opportunities for more jobs in Lubbock.”
The Texas Tech Research Park is scheduled to open in May.
“Texas Tech University is emerging as one of the nation’s leading research universities, and the campus community is dedicated to continuing and advancing our contributions to research,” M. Duane Nellis, president of Texas Tech University, said. “Innovation and entrepreneurship are critical to moving forward and achieving our goals. And, LEDA’s support will provide a major boost to our efforts from the laboratory to the marketplace.”
Since its inception in 2004, LEDA has assisted 129 companies with their expansion or relocation to Lubbock. These companies committed to creating 5,717 jobs and investing more than $417 million in new capital improvements.
HOUSTON: MAGNET FOR FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT
The Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate (AFIRE) recently released their annual survey which ranks countries and major cities where foreign investors plan to place investments. For the second consecutive year, the U.S. tops the list for foreign investment with 90 percent of respondents planning to either maintain or increase their current U.S. portfolios. The survey also showed that the U.S. was voted as the most stable and secure country for investment, as well as offering the best opportunity for capital appreciation.
“With a stable and transparent market and an economy that appears to be steadily improving without the fits and starts experienced in other regions, the U.S. has become the first stop for foreign real estate investors,” said AFIRE Chairman Thomas Arnold.
Houston, TX ranked third on a list of U.S. cities in which foreign investors are seeking to invest, according to the AFIRE survey. The Greenspoint District, located on Houston’s north side, also benefits greatly from foreign investment. Several foreign companies have already chosen to locate in the Greenspoint District including Schlumberger, Hapag-Lloyd, QuEST Global Services and Mazak. Additional investments are expected in the future.
The Greenspoint District also has developed strong relationships with officials in several foreign markets, including the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, China, Brazil, India, Russia, Israel and Turkey. District staff regularly participate in trade missions, host international receptions and conduct meetings in the District offices, as well as facilitate Greenspoint District tours.
The survey identified the top five emerging countries for foreign investment this year as: Brazil (last year ranked as No. 2), China (last year ranked as No. 1), Mexico (stayed steady at No. 3 for the second year in a row), Chile and finally Poland (both tied at No. 6 last year). AFIRE predicts that China will lead the world as the largest source of capital in U.S. projects by 2016.
“With the continued creation of wealth in China, it is not surprising that they, along with other nationalities, are voting with their ‘dollars,’” Arnold said.
When comparing property types for investment, industrial space ranked second among investors’ preferred property type and office as third. This is good news for the Greenspoint District which offers myriad industrial spaces for companies in the manufacturing industry, as well as office spaces for companies in the logistics, healthcare, finance, real estate, insurance and headquarters industries.
The Greenspoint District has identified several key market sectors based on the strengths and opportunities the area has to offer. These sectors include: energy; logistics; health care; finance, insurance and real estate; professional services; manufacturing; management; technology and headquarters.
Greenspoint is home to more than 100 energy-related companies included ExxonMobil, Shell, Schlumberger, Halliburton and Baker Hughes. QuEST Global, a world-wide engineering services provider, recently opened a new 8,500 square foot engineering center to meet the rising demands for engineering services in the oil and gas industry.
The Greenspoint District’s convenient location with easy access to multiple transportation corridors lends itself to being a perfect location for companies in the logistics industry. Within a one-day drive time, Greenspoint businesses can connect with more than 60 million people in the mid-south United States and northeastern states of Mexico. Hapag-Lloyd, Ceva, DHL, Moran and GAC are just a few companies who use a Greenspoint District location as an easy access point for moving product around the world.
The area is picking up momentum in the health care sector, as availability and convenience become deciding factors for health care site selection. In August 2013, Texas Children’s Health Plan opened its largest clinic outside of the Medical Center with the Texas Children’s Health Plan’s The Center for Children and Women at Greenspoint. UT Physicians also will be opening a new clinic in the area in the coming months. Other healthcare-related companies that call Greenspoint home are HealthHelp, Pinnacle and Epic Medstaff.
Greenspoint District also has seen an increase in the number of food distribution companies locating here, again citing the area’s location and proximity to major thoroughfares as a main advantage. Sysco Food Services is the anchor tenant at Pinto Business Park with a 600,000-square-foot office and distribution center. In addition, Houston’s third largest employer, Grocers Supply is currently constructing a 1.2 million-square-foot facility at Pinto. They plan to consolidate some operations including their produce warehouse, meat facility and banana warehouse. The company also will eventually relocate their headquarters to the new facility.
The Greenspoint District sits at the crossroads of the region’s fiber optic infrastructure, making it an ideal location for technology companies. Last April, Data Foundry broke ground on a new 350,000-square-foot data center in Greenspoint. Houston 2 data center will be a purpose-built data center fit with 60 megawatts of power capability. Technology and professional companies such as Jones & Carter, Fibertown, Level 3 and Aster also benefit from a Greenspoint location.
The District also is home to several companies in the finance, insurance and real estate sectors including CitiFinancial, CIBC World Markets and Hartford Lloyd’s.
BAKER HUGHES ED CENTER CUTS RIBBON IN TOMBALL
The Baker Hughes Western Hemisphere Education Center has held its grand opening in Tomball, TX. The 90,000-square-foot classroom building is designed for efficient, high-caliber training and innovation. The building currently houses 21 classrooms, with six more being planned. At any given time, the center will hold approximately 500 students and as many as 100 training personnel.
“I sincerely hope you will share the pride in this new facility,” Didier Charreton, Vice President of Human Resources for Baker Hughes said. “We know that education doesn’t end when we leave school. Training and education are core values at Baker Hughes. That is evident by the investment that we have made here.”
Greater Tomball Area Chamber of Commerce President Bruce Hillegeist welcomed Baker Hughes to Tomball, saying the city is in a way going back to its roots. “Really Tomball’s roots are in energy,” he said. “In 1933, there was a gusher out on the Kobes property. In the 40s Tomball was declared Oil Town USA. I think it is ironic that Tomball is kind of going back to its roots of energy. We are so happy that Baker Hughes has chosen Tomball as a home for its Western Hemisphere Training Center.”
The complex, built on a 100-acre parcel of land owned by Baker Hughes, features a classroom building, a 162,000-square-foot training yard and a workshop. The only other facility similar to this one was built in Dubai four years ago.
“We know that Dubai has an indoor ski resort and the largest mall in the world and manmade islands,” Hillegeist said. “But, the people here in Tomball are what are going to make you happy. Baker Hughes has really put Tomball on the map in the world.”
Baker Hughes CEO and Chairman Martin Craighead said Baker Hughes has been looking forward to the opening of the center for a long time. “It is a very special place,” he said. “We [already] hosted our investor conference here. Many of the world’s investors today won’t pay for education. That is very inconsistent with the thoughts of Baker Hughes. We said we are going to have dinner here with you and they were blown away.”
The training center is a cross-training facility designed to train Baker Hughes employees from all product lines. Training encompasses classroom learning, hands-on mechanical and electrical training in our workshop labs, and field operations training on rigs and wells. The Tomball facility replaces seven other legacy training centers across the hemisphere, the Center primarily serves our North America and our Latin America regions, but welcomes attendees from the Europe/Africa/Russia Caspian and Middle East/Asia Pacific regions as well.
“When I had the opportunity to meet two or three years ago with Mayor Fagan and her staff after we purchased the BJ facility across the street, I remember telling them that we wanted to get to know the Tomball area a little better,” Craighead said. “If we really liked what we saw we would do more. This is the first step in that, but it won’t be the last step.”
Baker Hughes also has made a $10,000 donation to the Tomball Scholarship Foundation on behalf of the Baker Hughes Foundation. Mayor Gretchen Fagan said the Training Center will be “a true game-changer” for the city.
“In the next 10 years, this facility could bring more than $8 million to our community through increased sales tax, hotel occupancy tax and property tax,” she said. “The project gives Tomball a global presence.”
Among the innovation learning methods found in the classroom building are bilingual and translated courses; “Innovative classrooms” that encourage small-team collaborative learning; a state-of-the-art telepresence classroom with HD video conferencing capabilities; and artwork that employs the LAYAR app, so that when the artwork is scanned, images take on new forms and content can be shared through social media channels. The building’s energy-efficient atrium features two sandstone walls, as well as a sharing space, where students can have small breakout or ad hoc meetings. Laptop information can easily be shared on one of the three large multiple-use monitors.
The atrium includes a 24-panel mosaic screen—the largest fixed mosaic screen in North America. Its rotating messages and images communicate product line information, and industry news. The 16-foot-long interactive touch table shows the full Baker Hughes history, along with oil and gas industry events, and world events that have shaped our industry. When the timeline is disengaged, the table becomes an engineering design table showing the interworking pieces of many of Baker Hughes technologies—again, another learning instrument within the center itself.
In the Pressure Pumping pad, Baker Hughes conducts hands-on training in cementing and blending operations for both land and offshore. Adjacent to the pad is the coiled tubing area, where two test wells are located. The first well is a 1,000-ft vertical well. The other well is used for horizontal well training.
The gantry area contains six wells in total. Four 1,000-foot wells are used by the Baker Hughes Wireline Services group. Two of these wells are cased wells and two are “openhole” wells, which contain fiberglass casing instead of steel. This allows us to run tools that need an openhole environment in which to work.
The wells on the outside of the gantry are 600-ft wells and are used primarily by our Artificial Lift and Sand Control training teams.
The training rig sits over a 1,600-foot well and includes a classroom adjacent to the rig floor, which enables real-time review and feedback, resulting in a faster, richer training experience. A second training rig is planned to sit over the 2,000-foot well also found in this area.
The 53,000 square-foot workshop building supports all training teams. In the workshop, technicians learn the mechanics of Baker Hughes’ tools—how to take them apart and put them back together.
The building also houses eight classrooms; cementing/fracturing simulation rooms; a 40-person fluids and chemicals lab; a mechanical, electrical and workmanship standards lab; and a cafeteria.
CVE TECHNOLOGY RELOCATES TO ALLEN
CVE Technology Group, Inc., one of the fastest-growing high-tech after-market service providers for cellular handsets and consumer electronics, has relocated its headquarters from Riverdale, NJ to Enterprise Business Park in Allen, TX.
According to CVE officials, 300 employees currently occupy about 40 percent of the 196,000-square-foot flex-space facility at 915 Enterprise Blvd., which also serves as a service center, and the company is averaging 20 new hires weekly in response to new and expanded contracts with cell phone carriers. At the Allen location, CVE expects to employ 1,200 by the end of 2015.
“We relocated the headquarters here because the Metroplex is the epicenter of cell phone growth and activity,” said CVE Vice President Ruben Alvarado. “All of the top carriers along with all of the top OEMs are here in the DFW Metroplex. Even if their headquarters are located elsewhere, their hubs and inventory most definitely are here.”
Although CVE maintains a national receiving center in Plano, TX and service centers in Fort Worth, TX and Riverdale, NJ, Alvarado said the key factor in site selection was Allen’s competitive lease rates for spaces that were ready to move in immediately. Allen’s Enterprise Business Park afforded less than 30-minute commutes to DFW International Airport and Dallas Love Field, and many dining and retail options within minutes at the nearby Watters Creek and Village at Allen centers. Alvarado said the Allen Economic Development Corporation also offered a strong economic incentive package.
“Allen is focused on helping businesses expand and relocate here in order to drive the growth of our employment base,” said Allen Economic Development Corporation Executive Director/CEO Dan Bowman. “At full employment, CVE is expected to rank among our largest employers in Allen.”
Bowman said Enterprise Business Park has attracted several large employers in addition to CVE, including Experian Information Solutions, Frontier Communications and Jack Henry & Associates. Combined, the four companies currently employ over 2,500 people.
According to Allen Economic Development Board President Scott Sutherland, the city has fostered a true live/work/play community that has untold potential for additional expansions and relocations.
“At the end of 2013, Allen had an estimated 25,000 daytime employees working here and that number continues to grow,” said Sutherland. “It is immensely rewarding to work with companies like CVE, who can grow along with Allen.”
Lee & Associates Director George Tanghongs represented the landlord, IndCor Properties, and CVE on the transaction. “The City of Allen was very accommodating and responsive,” said Tanghongs. “The whole process took two months and, ultimately, it came down to the right property, right location and the right incentives Allen offered.”
SIRO GROUP PICKS SEQUIN
The Texas Enterprise Fund is investing $800,000 in Siro Group USA to close the deal on a manufacturing facility in Seguin that will create more than 200 jobs and pump $58.5 million in capital investment into the local economy.
Grupo Siro, the parent company of Siro Group USA, is one of the biggest names in the Spanish food industry, with 19 production facilities, a research and development center and headquarters in five countries. The company produces baby food, cookies, pastries, pasta, frozen desserts, bread and cereals, with more than half of its total output sold to retailers as private label products. This TEF investment will help establish a new facility to produce these products for customers located in Canada, Mexico and Central America.
“The city of Seguin is, undoubtedly, a strategic location to set up our factory due to its environmental conditions and highly qualified people. This factory will allow us to meet the demands of our clients in the United States while creating long-term economic and social value for locals” said Luis Ángel López, Cerealto Siro Foods’ CEO. “We are really thankful for the support given by the Texas Enterprise Fund, the Guadalupe County Tax Abatement Committee, the Seguin City Council and the Seguin Economic Development Corporation without which our dream couldn’t become a reality.”
“We are so delighted to be joining forces with Siro Group USA LLC. The announcement of our partnership with Siro Group adds another great step in our quest to add more diverse jobs here in Seguin,” said Terry Trevino, Director of the Seguin Economic Development Corporation. “All of our teamwork towards building a strong foundation of diversified employers has put us high on the map and earned us recognition for “Where the Jobs Are” nationally and recently, No. 12 in a ranking of ‘Cities on The Rise in Texas.’ Seguin has the jobs and we are blessed to jump on board with Siro’s vision to make this possible for everyone.”
TX BECOMES FDI FRONTLINES LEADER
The Governor’s Office of Economic Development and Tourism, has been named as a leader of the , a national organization focused on arming state, regional and local economic development organizations (EDOs) with the resources they need to attract more foreign direct investment (FDI).
“Global investment plays a critical role in Texas’s economy, and the Texas Governor’s Office of Economic Development and Tourism’s efforts have made the Lone Star State a leader in attracting foreign investment,” said Nancy McLernon, president and CEO of the Organization for International Investment (OFII), a non-profit business association representing 170 of the world’s largest employers that is supporting the coalition. “EDOs engage with global investors to create opportunities for their communities, fighting every day to improve the business climate in America. At its essence, the FDI Frontlines Coalition is about helping EDOs attract more global investment, and we’re honored to have the State of Texas help lead this initiative.”
With the support of OFII and its insourcing member companies, the FDI Frontlines Coalition will offer EDOs an opportunity to enhance their global investment IQ by providing research and business insight while also amplifying their voice on ways America can attract more foreign direct investment.
“Texas is thrilled to participate in the FDI Frontlines Coalition and looks forward to working with the Organization for International Investment,” said Texas Economic Development Director Bryan Daniel. “Under the leadership of Governor Greg Abbott, Texas is leveraging our economic development programs to be bigger, broader and bolder in attracting foreign direct investment, and we will work to ensure that the Coalition becomes a source of best practices and experienced guidance to our communities as well as a trusted partner to current and future foreign investors.”
The FDI Frontlines Coalition was officially launched at the SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington, DC on Monday, which brought President Obama, seven cabinet secretaries and three governors together with thousands of EDOs and foreign employers to focus on increasing foreign direct investment in America. Already, more than 175 EDOs have joined the national coalition.
Texas ranks second in the nation in the total number of jobs and second in manufacturing jobs supported by foreign companies. Nationally, these insourcing companies employ 5.8 million Americans, support an annual payroll of $456 billion, paying U.S. workers an average of $78,927—more than 33 percent higher than the economy-wide average. Insourcing companies also produce more than 21 percent of U.S. exports, providing $334 billion in American goods annually to customers globally.