San Antonio Express-News
Cibolo to get car transmission plant
Japanese manufacturer to set up shop near I-10, bringing 900 jobs
A Japanese transmission maker said Tuesday it will bring 900 jobs to Cibolo and build a $400 million plant there — a big economic-development win for the Northeast Side suburb.
The manufacturer, AW Texas Inc., comes with solid credentials. Its parent company, Aisin, is a Fortune Global 500 firm that’s partly owned by Toyota and is one of the automaker’s major suppliers.
Cibolo officials said AW Texas will produce parts at the plant for several auto manufacturers, but didn’t mention Toyota specifically.
Workers at the 500,000square-foot facility will earn an average of $42,000 per year, according to an economic impact report.
“This will be a longtime, major benefit to Cibolo,” said Mark Luft, the city’s economic development director.
The news comes as San Antonio officials await a decision by Toyota to invest — or not — nearly $400 million to upgrade the production line of its South Side plant, which produces Tundra and Tacoma pickups.
The improvements likely would result in more local jobs, though maybe not immediately.
Toyota is expected to announce its decision within a few weeks. It’s considering which of its North American plants will get the investment.
Tom Long, chief development officer at San Antonio Economic Development Foundation, said Aisin’s selection of Cibolo — a wellto-do city with a population of 30,600 and median household income of nearly $93,000 — is another sign the automotive industry has taken root in the region.
“On its own, it speaks to the positive business climate and the strong workforce, especially in the transportation industry that we have here in this region,” Long said. “I hope it’s going to be the beginning of a lot of conversations we can have about recruiting
these types manufacturers into South Texas.”
The Cibolo decision also could hint at an expansion of Toyota’s San Antonio plant, said Bruce M. Belzowski, managing director of the University of Michigan’s Automotive Futures Group, a consulting and research organization.
“It’s no coincidence that Aisin is locating in the San Antonio area,” he said.
In a recent application for Bexar County incentives, Toyota said that if it selects its San Antonio operation for the upgrades, it could produce an additional model, beyond the Tundras and Tacomas the plant already turns out.
With the expansion, Belzowski said, the automaker would need significantly more parts from Aisin and other suppliers.
Hence, Aisin’s selection of Cibolo.
“It all fits together,” he said. Aisin first chose Texas for its new plant, and then scouted Cibolo and other cities across the state during a two-year search, City Manager Robert Herrera said.
The Cibolo plant will be Aisin’s second in the United States. The supplier opened its first in Durham, N.C., in 1998.
The supplier plans to build its facility on a 159.5-acre parcel at South Santa Clara and Bolton roads along Interstate 10.
“Aisin has indicated they need the entire 159 acres just for their facility, for future growth,” Herrera said. “This will become a very hot economic development growth corridor.
“The closing on the land will occur the first week in August, and Aisin has indicated to us that we will start seeing ground work taking place in September,” he said.
The 159 acres is owned by Guadalupe Valley Electric Cooperative.
“Without the county, GVEC, and Gov. Greg Abbott’s office, this would not have been possible,” Herrera said.
At a joint meeting of the Guadalupe County Commissioners Court and the Cibolo City Council on Tuesday, both parties approved tax abatements for AW Texas — known around City Hall as “Project Seahorse” for the past two years. Aisin will receive a 10year property tax abatement and other incentives from Cibolo and a 10-year abatement from the county. During the meeting, officials welcomed Satoru Kasuya, Aisin AW’s managing officer and deputy chief officer, and Yuichi Iwakawa, the company’s project general manager.