Austin Gets EPA Report Under Federal Assistance Program to Green State Capitals

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has given the City of Austin, TX a much-awaited report that provides recommendations for greenspace development along the city’s South Central Waterfront.

Austin SCW Vision Framework

Austin SCW Vision Framework (photo – austintexas.gov)

The EPA’s “Greening America’s Capitals” program helps state capitals develop an implementable vision of environmentally friendly neighborhoods that incorporate innovative green infrastructure strategies.

Specifically, EPA funds a team of designers to visit each city to produce schematic designs and illustrations intended to catalyze or complement a larger planning process for the pilot neighborhood.

These pilots are often the testing ground for citywide actions, such as changes to local codes and ordinances to better support environmentally sustainable growth and green infrastructure.

EPA works on this program in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Transportation through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. The design team and EPA, HUD, and DOT staff also help city staff develop specific implementation strategies.

Back in Sept 2014, Austin was one of five cities selected to receive technical assistance from the EPA Greening America’s Capitals Program.

At that time, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a statement that “EPA is excited about the opportunity to work with five new capital cities as they pursue their vision of a more sustainable future through the Greening America’s Capitals program.”

In Austin, the assistance will help create design options for Austin’s South Central Waterfront (SCW), a 97-acre district on the south shore of Lady Bird Lake. The goal of the EPA assistance is to achieve green infrastructure that reduces stormwater runoff and localized flooding; improves pedestrian and bike connections; improves water quality; and provides more shade.

The South Central Waterfront Vision Framework Plan will guide public and private development, ensuring that park spaces, public gathering places, green streets and affordable housing are central to the future redevelopment of the area.

The EPA funded a design team, CMG Landscape Architecture, to work with City staff, residents, business owners, property owners and other stakeholders to develop elements to improve the public space.

The EPA report recommendations include an expanded waterfront park that provides better access from the street to the trail along Lady Bird Lake. Some sections from the EPA report will now be incorporated into the official Framework Plan, which the City Council will consider adopting on the ninth of next month.

The city is also working to develop a financial framework that will outline strategies to pay for the Austin economic development projects initiated under the Framework Plan. It will include recommendations for strategic capital investments, development incentives, value-capture strategies, and public-private partnerships to fund the Vision.

Read the full EPA Greening America’s Capitals report for Austin – Download (pdf)

Round Rock, Texas Approves Economic Development Incentives For UPS Distribution Center Project

UPS (NYSE: UPS) will establish a large new regional distribution facility in Round Rock, TX that will provide additional operating capacity for UPS in the greater Austin area, fortify its existing distribution network, and accommodate future growth in Central Texas.


UPS (photo – William Grimes/wikipedia)

At its latest meeting, the Round Rock City Council voted unanimously to approve a resolution to enter into an incentive agreement with UPS for this project.

Supported by Williamson County and Round Rock economic development incentives, tax breaks and infrastructure improvements, the company will invest $70 million and create more than 300 new jobs at this facility.

The company is getting a property tax abatement from the City, along with additional incentive payments of $250,000 in 2019 and 2020. The City also agrees to waive site preparation and construction permit fees, and road impact fees up to a maximum of $150,000. The total value of the incentives being provided is approximately $2.1 million.

UPS, the City and Williamson County will furthermore share the costs of improving road access to accommodate the facility.

In order to qualify for these incentives, UPS must purchase 50 acres, build at least a 100,000-square-foot facility worth $70 million, and employ at least 314. These will be jobs with an annual average salary of at least $50,000. UPS’ plans call for roughly 225,000 square feet on approximately 50 acres of land.

Craig Wiltz, president of UPS’s Red River District, said in a statement that “This new facility in Round Rock will provide additional pickup and delivery service to UPS customers throughout the area so they can focus on growing their business.”

Round Rock Mayor Alan McGraw said they are thrilled to welcome UPS to Round Rock. “UPS is a company that invests in its employees with a focus on training, education, and work-life balance and is a great addition to our city,” said Mayor McGraw.

Atlanta-based UPS is a Fortune 500 company that manages the flow of goods, funds, and information in more than 220 countries and territories worldwide. The company currently has 117 facilities in the state of Texas, employing 22,000 people. All told, UPS employs more than 440,000 people around the world.

Ben White, the Round Rock Chamber’s vice president of economic development, noted that “This is another great example of the chamber, the city, and the county working side-by-side to bring a major employer to town.”

Frisco’s Healthy Lifestyle Attracts Jamba Inc. Headquarters to Texas

Jamba, Inc. (NASDAQ:JMBA), parent of the Jamba Juice Company, announced the relocation of its headquarters to the Hall Office Park in Frisco, TX.

Jamba Juice headquarters

Jamba Juice headquarters (photo – Coolcaesar/wikipedia)

Supported by state incentives through the Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF) and additional City of Frisco economic development assistance, the company will transition its Emeryville, CA Support Center operations to a new LEED certified, state-of-the-art facility in the Hall Office Park in the North Dallas suburbs.

The new headquarters, called the “Jamba Whirl’d Center,” will include 25,000 square feet of office and collaboration space as well as a test kitchen for product innovation.

The Jamba relocation will bring approximately 100 jobs to Frisco, including existing team members who relocate from Emeryville as well as new hires in Texas. This move will affect approximately 120 employees at the company’s existing offices in Emeryville, which will be closed following the relocation.

Jamba Inc. made it a point to note that they have 1,000 company employees in California, and franchisee partners have more than 5,000 employees in 407 stores across the state. The Company also said that it intends to continue to open new stores and increase jobs within the California market.

David A. Pace, Chief Executive Officer of Jamba, Inc., explained in a statement that “With the pending expiration of our lease in Emeryville at the end of 2016, we explored a number of location options that would offer us competitive operating costs, a region with extensive access to skilled restaurant talent, an attractive cost of living to our current and future team members and a geographical location that facilitates our ability to expand our store base.”

“The State of Texas meets all of these criteria and Frisco is a community committed to healthy living that aligns closely with our overall mission,” added Pace.

Hall Office Park is Hall Financial Group’s award-winning, 162-acre office development in Frisco, master planned for three million square feet of Class A space, and conveniently located less than 30 minutes from DFW Airport and downtown Dallas. The development is supported by incentives provided by the City of Frisco and the Frisco Economic Development Corporation.

Jamba, Inc. owns and franchises Jamba Juice stores through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Jamba Juice Company. The company was founded in March 1990 by Kirk Perron, who opened the first Jamba Juice store in San Luis Obispo, CA. As of this March, there were 885 Jamba Juice store locations globally, including 68 company-owned and operated stores and 752 franchise-operated stores in the United States, and 65 franchise-operated international stores.

Italian SATA Group to Locate $114M Machine Plant in Brownsville, Texas

SATA USA, a subsidiary of Italy-based high-tech components manufacturer SATA Group, has announced the selection of Brownsville, TX as the location for a new machine plant.

Brownsville Economic Development Council

Photo – bedc.com

Supported by a Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF) offer of $1.8 million, SATA Group is expected to create 300 new jobs and generate $114 million in capital investment.

The announcement was made at the Brownsville Economic Development Council, where company executives were joined by state, local and federal officials.

Governor Abbott said in a statement that “I am proud that SATA Group has chosen to expand in the Rio Grande Valley, bringing high-quality jobs to a region that is vital to the growth of our state.”

Pietro Cinotto, Vice President of SATA USA, explained that growing demand for their machined products and services grew to the point where it made sense for them to enter the North American market, and that’s when Brownsville, TX came into their site selection process. “The overwhelming support helped us make the decision to settle in Brownsville,” added Cinotto.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker likewise issued a statement noting that “At the Department of Commerce, we are proud to lead the SelectUSA program, a coordinated federal effort to attract foreign direct investment. This deal shows the value of cooperation across the local, state, and federal levels to bring new job-creating investments to our communities.”

Housed within the Department of Commerce, SelectUSA is the first U.S. government-wide program to promote and facilitate job-creating investment into the United States.

Working together with Brownsville, SelectUSA coordinated efforts by Secretary Pritzker, U.S. Ambassador to Italy John Phillips, SelectUSA Executive Director Vinai Thummalapally, and others to encourage SATA USA to locate this investment in the United States.

Jason Hilts, President and CEO of the Brownsville Economic Development Council, highlighted the project’s regional impact in South Texas. “In the long term, the SATA development will be the anchor for the North Brownsville Heavy Manufacturing Campus, which will become a major economic pillar for South Texas,” said Hilts.

The North Brownsville Heavy Manufacturing Campus is a 350-acre development on newly designated Interstate 169 that has potential to create 4,000 jobs over a 10-year period. It will house a vertically-integrated machining-foundry-forging operation by 2020, and will integrate private enterprise, the public sector, the university system, community college and technical training facilities, all within the campus.

Amazon Expands Again in Haslet, Texas With Second Fulfillment Center and 1000 Jobs

Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) has announced plans to open yet another fulfillment center in Texas. This will be the second Amazon fulfillment center in Haslet, the fourth in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, and the sixth overall in Texas.

Haslet econdev Amazon fulfillment

Photo – haslet.org

The new 1 million square-foot fulfillment center will create another 1,000 new jobs for Haslet and the region, adding to the more than 8,000 full-time hourly associates Amazon already employs at its Texas fulfillment centers in Haslet, Coppell, southern Dallas and Schertz, with a fifth currently under construction in San Marcos.

Amazon also has three sortation centers in Texas located in Irving, Houston and San Antonio.

Akash Chauhan, Amazon’s Vice President of North American operations, said in a statement that “We are appreciative of the community, not just in Haslet but the entire Dallas area for its support of Amazon, its top-notch workforce and the customers who enable us to continually grow across the country.”

Employees at the new Haslet facility will pick, pack, and ship smaller customer items such as books, electronics and toys. The arrival of Amazon’s physical fulfillment and sorting centers in Texas has been particularly helpful for Haslet economic development.

Amazon first announced plans to open three Texas fulfillment centers in Coppell, Haslet and Schertz in Jan 2013 with 1,000 jobs. That first 1.2 million-square-foot Haslet facility, located in the AllianceTexas development, also handles smaller items. Since opening in Haslet, Amazon has announced two subsequent expansions last year, bringing the workforce count at this facility up to over 2,000 associates.

After the company announced its $21.5 expansion last year, David Miracle, then executive director of Haslet Economic Development, said in a statement that “We work hard to attract business to the community and it is always rewarding to have an expansion of an existing employer — especially one that creates such a large number of jobs as well as significant direct benefits for the City.”

Following this latest announcement of a second large fulfillment center with another 1,000 jobs, Haslet Mayor Bob Golden likewise noted that “Amazon has been not only a significant job creator in Haslet, but also a great community partner. Just a few months ago, the company donated Amazon tablets to a local school and $2,000 in gift cards to promote the use of technology in the classroom.”

The arrival of an Amazon fulfillment center and the large number of jobs it brings is also valuable to a community for workforce development, due to the many career enhancement opportunities the company provides.

For example, under the Career Choice initiative, the company will pre-pay up to 95 percent of tuition on behalf of its associates for courses related to in-demand fields, regardless of whether the skills are relevant to a career at Amazon. Since the program’s launch, employees have been pursuing degrees in diverse fields such as game design and visual communications, nursing, IT programming and radiology, to name a few.

GM Financial Breaks Ground on Servicing Center in San Antonio, Texas

Governor Greg Abbott joined executives of GM Financial for the ground breaking of the company’s new financial servicing center in San Antonio, TX.

GM Financial San Antonio, TX

GM Financial San Antonio, TX (photo – sanantonioedf.com)

Supported by a $2.5 million Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF) grant and additional local incentives from Bexar County and the City of San Antonio, the company is making at least $20 million in capital investment and plans to create more than 490 jobs.

General Motors Financial Company Inc. has entered into an agreement with Western Securities Limited to build a new 100,000-square-foot facility in San Antonio on 13.8 acres of land off of Raymond E. Stotzer Freeway.

The new facility will be capable of accommodating up to 700 employees, almost all of whom will be new hires. Fort Worth, TX-based GM Financial already employs 2,580 workers in the State of Texas, and has approximately 6,700 team members in the U.S. and Canada.

Governor Abbott said in a statement that “San Antonio is home of transformational technology and manufacturing, and now, the city is adding hundreds of new jobs in the growing financial services sector. I thank General Motors Financial for being such a great business partner and continuing to expand in Texas.”

At the time the project was first announced, GM Financial CEO Dan Berce had said that “We are excited to add another servicing center in the state that is home to GM Financial’s corporate headquarters and other operational facilities.”

GM Financial’s existing financial servicing centers are located in Arlington, TX; Chandler, AZ; Huntersville, NC; and, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. The company chose the San Antonio location for their next servicing center on based on several factors, including a strong workforce, an ideal time zone that can service customers across the U.S., and incentives offered by the city, county and state.

Apart from the $2.5 million TEF grant as a state incentive, the San Antonio City Council has approved an incentive package recommended by the City of San Antonio Economic Development Department. The Bexar County Commissioners Court is likewise providing its own package of incentives for the project.

Wayne Peacock, chairman of the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation, has said in a statement that GM Financial will generate a lasting economic impact on the community by committing to add 490 new jobs, with the possibility of growing that number up to 700 over time.

“In fact, according to analysis conducted by Impact DataSource, the total economic output over the first 10 years of operations could reach nearly $333 million,” said Peacock.

Uber Aims to Drive South Dallas Economic Development Through DriveSouth Initiative

Uber and Mayor Mike Rawlings announced the launch of the DriveSouth Initiative to offer flexible earning opportunities to thousands of people in southern Dallas.

Uber DriveSouth

Uber DriveSouth (photo – uber.com)

Working in partnership with the city and several South and Greater Dallas economic development and local community groups, the company has committed to signing up 2,500 new driver-partners in southern Dallas over the next 12 months.

Mayor Rawlings said in a statement that residents of southern Dallas deserve the same job opportunities and access to services as citizens on the north side. “This initiative is yet another sign of the commitment from the private sector to GrowSouth,” added Mayor Rawlings.

The company has successfully partnered on similar initiatives with city leaders in Austin and Chicago last year. But Uber’s DriveSouth is also inspired by the GrowSouth economic development plan for southern Dallas. The City of Dallas has developed a plan that supports what they can accomplish as part of GrowSouth, including short- and long-term infrastructure and capital improvements that will support and enhance growth in Southern Dallas.

Thousands of Dallas residents are already Uber drivers. By adding another 2,500 drivers in Southern Dallas within a year, the area will have access to more reliable transportation. So the DriveSouth initiative will ultimately drive more business to the region, as it becomes easier and more affordable to find rides.

Community partners who joined Mayor Rawlings and Uber DFW GM Leandre Johns for the DriveSouth announcement included Revitalize South Dallas Coalition President Ken Smith and Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce President Wilton Munnings.

Apart from the City of Dallas, organizations involved in this partnership to assist Uber in creating earning opportunities for the region include Workforce Solutions of Greater Dallas, Urban League of Greater Dallas Young Professionals, For Oakcliff, Revitalize South Dallas Coalition, and the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce.

Revitalize South Dallas Coalition President Ken Smith noted that the South Dallas/Fair Park area has a 50 percent unemployment rate, contains less than five percent of all jobs in North Texas, and 59 percent of residents in the area do not own a car.

Even so, southern Dallas covers the greatest inventory of land available in Dallas, encompassing 185 square miles, or roughly 54 percent of the city’s area. That’s enough space to fit the entire cities of Boston, Miami, Pittsburgh and San Francisco combined.

“Uber’s efforts to establish thousands of small, community-based businesses through this driver recruitment campaign is exactly what our community needs,” said Smith.

Fort Worth, Texas Grants Secure Galderma Headquarters Expansion

Swiss dermatology company Galderma has announced an expansion of its to support research, development and training operations at its headquarters in Fort Worth, TX.


Cetaphil (photo – earthlydelights/flickr)

Supported by a $2.052 million Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF) grant and Fort Worth economic development incentives, the company will invest $22 million to add a new 100,000-square-foot facility to its existing 170,000-square-foot headquarters operations.

The company expects the expansion to create 342 new jobs in Fort Worth. As part of its agreement with the City, Galderma will also retain 280 existing employees in Fort Worth. The new jobs being created are high-wage jobs with an average annual salary that will be a minimum of $110,000.

Governor Greg Abbott said in a statement that Galderma’s expansion shows the company’s commitment to serving the Fort Worth community and its workforce needs. “We are proud that Galderma has decided to continue investing in Texas and create hundreds of new jobs to support their North American operations,” said Gov. Abbott.

Galderma Laboratories, L.P. is a part of Lausanne, Switzerland-based Galderma S.A. The company, which was founded in 1981 as a joint venture between L’Oreal & Nestle, is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nestle. Galderma is now present in 100 countries with an extensive product portfolio, including the Cetaphil line of skin care products, to treat a range of dermatological conditions.

The company’s association with the Dallas-Fort Worth area goes back a long way to 1961, when the Owen dermatology company was founded in Dallas. Ophthalmology specialist Alcon, headquartered in Fort Worth, acquired Owen in 1972, and Nestle in turn acquired Alcon in 1977. Nestle and L’Oreal then formed a joint venture in 1981 to create Galderma.

Galderma North America President Miles Harrison said in the release that “We are thrilled to expand our Fort Worth footprint and to see our expansion supported by a $2.052 million grant from the Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF).”

Galderma will also receive economic development grants annually from the City of Fort Worth for ten years, valued at a total of around $600,000. Each of the annual grants will be equivalent to a maximum of 50 percent of the incremental real property tax revenues and personal property tax revenues generated each year by the expansion.

Apart from job creation and wage requirements, the company’s agreement with the City also requires it to hire Fort Worth certified MWBE contractors to receive at least 25 percent of the construction costs of this expansion project. Furthermore, Galderma must fill at least 25 percent of the eligible jobs with Fort Worth residents.

Pegasus Foods Selects Rockwall, Texas For New Manufacturing Facility

One more California company is making its way towards Texas and the Dallas suburbs. This time, the company in question is Pegasus Foods, which has announced the selection of Rockwall, TX as the location for a new production facility that will expand its food manufacturing capacity.

Pegasus Foods

Pegasus Foods (photo – pegasusfoodsinc.com)

Supported by local incentives secured for Pegasus by the Rockwall Economic Development Corp., the company will invest $10 million to build a new 80,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, and expects to create at least 325 new jobs.

Los Angeles-based Pegasus Foods Principal Jim Zaferis said in a statement that “We will proudly become part of the community of Rockwall and manufacture safe food of great quality while employing and improving the quality of life for our newly hired fellow Texans.”

Pegasus was founded in 1998 as a frozen food manufacturing company in Los Angeles specializing in fillo dough based appetizers and pastries, and moved to a 55,000-square-foot USDA-approved facility with multiple production areas in 2003. Pegasus, with $22.27 million in annual sales, has now grown into a full-fledged manufacturer of frozen foods and meals for many large retail companies and restaurant chains. Their client list includes Walmart, Cinnabon, Panda Express, Trader Joe’s, and Chili’s.

The Pegasus Foods announcement in Rockwall follows on the heels of San Francisco-based McKeeson Corp’s decision to establish a regional office in Irving, TX where it will consolidate its Dallas area operations and bring 975 jobs.

Governor Greg Abbott noted in a statement that once again, a California company has decided there is no better place to grow and operate a business than the Lone Star State. “Texas offers room to grow, and I look forward to welcoming even more businesses from California,” added Gov. Abbott.

In order to secure the McKeeson Corp project, Gov. Abbott had announced that a Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF) grant offer of $9.75 million had been extended to the company. In the case of Pegasus Foods, the company is coming to Texas supported by Rockwall economic development incentives that include land for the new facility and some infrastructure support required to facilitate the construction and operations of the new Pegasus Foods facility.

Attracting relocation and expansion projects by companies such as Pegasus Foods and McKeeson Corp in vastly different industries is an economic development strategy aimed at diversifying the Dallas region economy, which has been feeling the impact of the instability in the oil and gas industry.

The Dallas Regional Chamber’s newly released economic development guide focuses on just this aspect, explaining why the Dallas Region is still one of the hottest markets for companies that are looking to relocate. More than 70 companies have relocated to the region in the past five years, and hundreds of existing companies have expanded their footprints in the Dallas Region.

McKesson Corp Selects Irving, TX For Dallas Area Consolidation and Expansion

McKesson Corporation (NYSE:MCK) has announced plans to expand and consolidate its operations in the Dallas metro area in a new regional office to be located in Irving, TX.

Irving, TX

Irving, TX (photo – steevithak/flickr)

Supported by $9.75 million in Texas economic development grant funding from the Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF), the company will make a capital investment of $157 million to purchase an existing 525,000-square-foot office building and establish their new regional office.

McKesson’s expansion is projected to create at least 975 new jobs. San Francisco-based McKesson Corporation is a healthcare services and information technology company that helps its customers improve their financial, operational, and clinical performance.

The company, founded in 1833 in New York City as Olcott & McKesson, is now ranked eleventh on the list of Fortune 500 companies. McKesson, which generated $179 billion in revenue last year, currently has over 70,000 employees worldwide, including more than 3,700 employees at multiple locations throughout Texas. The Irving facility will be in addition to McKesson’s specialty pharmaceutical business that is headquartered in The Woodlands, TX.

David Evangelista, Senior Vice President and General Manager of McKesson Financial Center, said in a statement that “After a thoughtful and thorough selection process, we’re excited to consolidate our Dallas-area offices into a new, state-of-the-art facility in Irving, Texas.”

The City of Irving and the Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce partnered with the Office of the Governor to facilitate state and local support for McKesson’s expansion. The company chose Irving, TX after a site selection process that considered sites in five states.

Governor Greg Abbott said in the statement that “This expansion is yet another testament to the power of Texas’ low-tax, low-regulation economic climate that continues to attract industry leaders, innovators, and job creators from around the globe.”

Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne likewise said that “The City of Irving is thrilled the McKesson Corporation has chosen Irving as its new regional home.”

Beth Bowman, president and CEO of the Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce, noted that McKesson’s selection of Irving for this facility marks one of North Texas region’s single-largest corporate commitments this year, as well as Irving’s largest real estate deal in the last decade. “McKesson will immediately become one of Irving’s largest employers, bringing an estimated $4.7 billion in total economic activity over the next decade, while continuing the incredible momentum that Irving-Las Colinas has experienced during the past two years,” said Bowman.

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