Four businesses bringing more than 1,000 new jobs – all expected to pay above minimum wage – are slated to come to the Rio Grande Valley over the next year, the McAllen Economic Development Corp. announced Thursday.
“I hope it’s an indicator that we are returning to the way things used to be,” said the corporation’s CEO Keith Partridge, referring to pre-recession levels when on average two major companies came to the region per month, not each year.
The new businesses range from a customer service call center to a corporation specializing in a manufacturing process called “steel slitting” where large coils are spread, cut and stamped into shapes ready for assembly.
“Anything made out of metal starts with us,” said Ed Camden, president of Southwest Steel Coil, a subsidiary of Calstrip Industries.
He said that 50,000-pound steel coils are sent by railroad freight trains from steel mills and will be transformed at the future factory in the Valley. The California-based company is looking at the McAllen area but will likely land in Mission or beyond, Camden said.
The company contracts with the maquiladora industry for home goods and automobile products, and has a similar borderlands operation in Santa Teresa, N.M., across the river from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
Camden said that the decision to open a factory in the Valleynear railroad lines and an international bridge was purposeful and the impact is larger than the 50 employees they expect to hire.
“We choose to contract with local companies,” he said of trucking companies and pallet builders, among others. “We touch a lot of other people in the local community.”
A skilled machine operator position can earn up to $21 per hour with full benefits, whereas a semi-skilled crane worker can make up to $14 per hour. Salaried support positions are also expected at the 60,000-square-foot manufacturing plant.
In the service sector, Teletech, a Colorado-based outsourcing company that contracts for customer service phone operations, plans to invest $3.7 million for a 36,000-square-foot building in McAllen and will create 650 jobs, city officials said.
The average hourly wage for a customer service representative at Teletech can range from $9.60 to $14, according to Glassdoor.com, an open data salary website. Convergys, a call center in Pharr, has comparable wages for the same position.
Conn’s Home Plus, a home goods and electronics store from Woodlands, Texas, will take over a 325,000-square-foot distribution warehouse in Sharyland Plantation and will add 80 jobs. The warehouse will be the organization’s largest distribution center in North America.
Average pay for a Conn’s warehouse worker is $10 per hour, according to Glassdoor.com.
Meanwhile, SFT Food Tech, of Monterrey, Mexico, which supplies prepared and frozen food to institutions and retailers, will build a 90,000-square-foot building on South Bentsen Road – an investment worth up to $12 million that will create 300 jobs, officials said.
In 2013, McAllen spent $1.2 million on infrastructure along South Bentsen Road that included a $600,000 matching grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Neither Conn’s, SFT Food Tech and Teletech could be immediately reached for comment.