Manufacturing Today - March/April 2016 - 101


MANUFACTURING

South

DESTINATION

access to the energy industry and the country's largest port
for exports is making houston a strategic destination for the
manufacturing industry.

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Picture Houston and the first images to come to mind are rodeos,
oil wells and NASA's mission control center. But the economic opportunities available in the Gulf Coast city are painting a new picture: America's manufacturing hub.
Accessible to other markets and a strong workforce have made
Houston the logical destination for companies such as pallet
rack maker Hannibal Industries. The Los Angeles-based company wanted a second manufacturing plant in a city that would
better serve its East Coast and Southeast customers. The plant
is expected to open this winter. "When you're making a cost-effective product like this it doesn't make sense to manufacture
on one coast and serve the other," Hannibal Industries spokesperson Ashton Maxfield says.
Hannibal Industries is part of the growing community of
companies that made Houston Forbes' No. 1 manufacturing
city for eight years running. Of the Texas city's 190 active construction projects, 90 are manufacturing related, according to
the Greater Houston Partnership, a regional economic development organization. Nearly half of the 265 new or expanded
facilities built in 2014 were for manufacturing, and manufacturing contributes $209.8 billion to Houston's GDP each year.
The Greater Houston Partnership acts as an ambassador
for the city, recruiting businesses, forming connections between companies and introducing journalists to Houston, as
it did when it hosted Manufacturing Today and other media in
January. During the trip, Manufacturing Today met with representatives of several Houston-area manufacturers, community colleges and the Port of Houston Authority. "We like to say
Houston is a city with no limits," says Bob Pertierra, senior vice
president for the Greater Houston Partnership.
The country's fourth largest metropolitan area is in a state
with no income tax and low unionization, and Houston is a city
with no zoning laws. The three ring roads that encircle Houston can move goods quickly to the Port of Houston, the nation's No. 1 port for foreign tonnage with $119 billion in exports

in 2014. "Houston is a place that still makes things and it shows
when you connect the dots with exports," Pertierra says. The
city boasts a 2.9-million-person workforce, including 255,400
manufacturing jobs. "The ease of getting started makes Houston very attractive," Pertierra adds.
The low cost of labor, port access and proximity to the energy industry were factors that brought Toshiba International
Corp. to Houston in 1970 and they all hold true today. "It's a
very inexpensive big city," Toshiba Marketing Communications Manager Lara Schneider says.
The company is much like its host city, she adds. Both have
an international culture and mindset. A fifth of Houston's residents are foreign born and the energy industry brings billions
of dollars in foreign investment. Last year, Houston received
140 international delegations and the city is home to 1,200 foreign-owned companies. "We get to work with people from all
over and we do business all over," Schneider explains.
The city's manufacturing boom has created stronger demand for skilled workers. Companies such as Exxon Mobil are
working with the area's nine community colleges to develop
career programs and teach technical skills. Lone Star College
set up an advisory council made up of representatives from 40
companies to address job training.
"We have been able to have a voice in adult education as it
relates to these industries," says Tom Standley, FMC School of
Applied Technologies' global program manager for FMC Technologies. FMC Technologies is one of many companies that
use state grants to fund job training through community and
technical colleges. One-third of the Lone Star College System's
83,000 students are now enrolled in these types of workforce
education programs. mt
MARCH/APRIL 2016 manufacturing-today.com

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Manufacturing Today - March/April 2016

Contents
Manufacturing Today - March/April 2016 - Cover1
Manufacturing Today - March/April 2016 - Cover2
Manufacturing Today - March/April 2016 - 1
Manufacturing Today - March/April 2016 - 2
Manufacturing Today - March/April 2016 - Contents
Manufacturing Today - March/April 2016 - 4
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