Martifer picks Texas, not Austin

Published 9:04 am Monday, September 22, 2008

The city of Austin has lost a wind turbine business to San Angelo, Texas, and with an estimated 225 jobs.

According to James Hurm, Austin city administrator, $22 million in incentives were used to lure the Martifer Group, a Portugal-based investment company, to build a manufacturing plant in Texas.

Earlier in the hunt, Albert Lea officials also had been courting the company, along with many other cities in the region.

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Austin city and economic development officials had hoped to welcome the plant to the Cook farm site with an economic development stimulus package of their own. The details of the package were not revealed.

According to Hurm’s information, Martifer started the bidding war for its plant by sending e-mails to hundreds of cities and development corporations.

Highway and rail access, an available work force and the proximity to wind energy projects were among the assets Martifer was looking for in America.

While Mower County and other areas in Minnesota have seen a spurt in wind energy development, it does not compare to that happening in West Texas.

The plant would have manufactured wind turbine towers.

Hurm said he made the announcement at Wednesday’s city-county meeting.

The announcement came during a discussion of mutual economic development interests between the city and the county.

Hurm then revealed them to the media at the Austin Port Authority meeting which followed the city-county meeting.