An Austrian-based manufacturing company is eyeing New Braunfels for its new North American headquarters location, and the result could mean 200 local jobs with an average salary of $49,000 per year.
At a Feb. 1 special meeting, the New Braunfels Industrial Development Corporation, or 4B Board, approved funding for a $500,000 incentive to bring Palfinger, a manufacturer that produces hydraulic lifting, loading and handling solutions, to the city.
“Palfinger is a global leader in their industry and would be a great corporate citizen in New Braunfels,” City Economic Development Manager Victor Garza said.
The funding would go toward performance-based grants associated with redeveloping an existing building and creating up to 200 jobs, according to the NBIDC’s meeting agenda.
Randy Wingenroth, Palfinger’s senior vice president for the Americas, said New Braunfels is attractive to the company because of the labor force, access to the supply chain and its proximity to their customer base.
“Texas in general is business friendly,” Wingenroth said, adding that a large portion of Palfinger’s customer base is heavily concentrated in the southern United States and parts of Mexico.
“It’s really good for open trade being located on I-35 and (close to) I-10, so it really works well for that as well,” he said.
Wingenroth said Palfinger, which operates five facilities nationwide, is looking for an existing building to renovate for their purposes rather than constructing a new facility. This will help with timing and to save on the over-all cost of the project, he said. A 100,000 square-foot portion of Coleman Industrial Park on FM306 is being looked at but has not been finalized.
“This is one of the better options that we’ve found,” Wingenroth said, adding that, if purchased, the company would have to renovate the building and add office space.
Next steps include the NBIDC presenting its expenditure for Palfinger to City Council for approval. Garza said a request for a city contribution is likely, and he also plans to present a possible property tax rebate for Palfinger to the council as early as Feb. 12.
According to Garza, bringing more manufacturing to New Braunfels is a goal outlined in the city’s Economic Development Strategic Plan.
“We are operating under a plan that was developed with input from the community,” Garza said. “This matches that plan.”
New Braunfels Chamber President Michael Meek said the manufacturing industry is making a comeback in the United States.
“The main thing that we look at with a company like Palfinger is that they have high-wage employment, and as a country we’re finally beginning to see manufacturing return here and grow,” he said. “… When commercial and industrial tax revenue increases, that gives the governmental entities and school districts more money to spend that isn’t put on the backs of the local homeowner.”
In addition, Palfinger would be a primary employer, meaning it would help grow the economy by bringing outside dollars to the community. It would also generate tax revenue for the city. But according to Meek, some of what Palfinger offers is “intangible.”
“Their corporate culture is such that when they come to a community they get involved civically and charitably … so they plan on their people being very involved in civic and charitable organizations,” Meek said. “If you’re any nonprofit in town, this just means so much more than the jobs and the tax base.”
Some of Palfingers products include loader cranes and truck-mounted forklifts.
“We’re still talking to other folks and (looking at) other scenarios, but we’re very confident at this point that we’re going to stick with New Braunfels,” Wingenroth said.