GM Financial, auto manufacturer General Motors Co.’s finance subsidiary, is about to begin building a financial service center on San Antonio’s far Westside, a facility whose total economic output could reach nearly $333 million during its first 10 years of operation.
Gov. Greg Abbott gathered with local political and business leaders Monday morning to break ground on the construction site, located at 3302 N. Ellison Dr., in a fast-growing area already anchored by corporate data, customer and financial service centers.
It was just last December when the Fort Worth-based GM Financial revealed it was working on agreements with the City of San Antonio and Bexar County to build a 100,000-square-foot center, which will accommodate up to 700 employees on 13.8 acres of land. The project represents a $26.5 million capital improvements for the currently heavily wooded site.
The facility is expected to open in spring 2017 and will be GM Financial’s fifth service center in North America. Together with other GM Financial and General Motors facilities and operations elsewhere in the state, including an assembly plant in Arlington, the new San Antonio center strengthens the auto manufacturer’s footprint in Texas, covering more than 10,000 total employees.
“GM Financial has been on a significant growth trajectory ever since being acquired by General Motors in October 2010, and the building of this financial servicing center is one of the many areas we have expanded or are expanding to support GM as a full captive,” said Daniel Berce, GM Financial’s president and CEO.
GM Financial was originally founded as AmeriCredit Corp. in September 1992. Berce said the auto manufacturer purchased AmeriCredit because of its long history of noted expertise in the field of auto lending. In the last five years, GM Financial’s North American workforce has grown from 2,500 in late 2010 to a current figure of 6,700, and to 8,500 total employees worldwide.
“We now offer a broad spectrum of auto financing solutions, including loan, lease and commercial lending products, to 60,000 dealers in 20 countries around the world,” Berce said.
The company plans to hire 490 people for the service center early on. The average annual salaries at the new service center will range from more than $49,700 to more than $134,900. A hiring team will be in town to help facilitate the recruiting process, which begins later this year. More information will be available soon at the GM Financial careers website.
Berce said GM Financial chose San Antonio, in its search to host its new service center, for three reasons.
“We were impressed with the strong workforce, and believe the employees we will hire here will complement the existing North American workforce,” Berce said.
“Second, a Central Time Zone is one that allows us to conveniently service customers across the U.S., and third, the incentives offered by the City and County, including a $2.5 million incentive from the Texas Enterprise Fund, would strategically benefit us for the long term.”
GM Financial’s tax abatement deals with the City and County each will last six years and cover half of the increased tax value of improvements that GM Financial projects would implement through its limited partnership, SRP LTD. The company is getting a tax abatement of more than $740,000 from the City and County, combined.
Berce later told the Rivard Report that his company has benefited from having built its existing service centers near similar corporate facilities. West San Antonio is brimming with commercial and residential development.
Aside from being home to SeaWorld San Antonio, a Christus Santa Rosa Hospital, Northwest Vista College, the area has major data and service centers operated by companies such as Microsoft Corp., Frost Bank and Nationwide Insurance.
Building close to such first-class facilities, Berce added, would “attract the labor force we need.”
Gov. Abbott gave partial credit for GM Financial’s decision to open a new financial servicing center in Texas, and in San Antonio, to cooperation among local leaders and to business-friendly policies pushed by state lawmakers. GM Financial officials acknowledged political leaders in the crowd, including state senators Donna Campbell (R-District 25) and Jose Menendez (D-District 26), and State Rep. Ina Minjarez (D-District 124). U.S. Rep. Will Hurd (R-District 23) and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) sent representatives to the groundbreaking.
“It’s everybody coming together to devote resources, time and effort to ensure that this project came to fruition,” Abbott said, adding that Texas is undergoing an economic diversification. He said San Antonio has been best known for its military presence and tourism industry, but that local sectors such as technology, manufacturing and financial services are flourishing.
“We are so proud of what San Antonio and Bexar County are doing to expand economic diversification in the state of Texas,” he said.
Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said GM Financial bringing in “well-paying jobs” bolsters the collaboration already taking place among the public and private sectors to fully develop a multi-skilled workforce pipeline, involving primary schools, colleges and universities in that effort.
“We work to create talent, attract talent and keep talent here in the city of San Antonio,” he added.
City Councilman Ray Lopez (D6) said the City and County have carefully guided the growth of far West San Antonio, and called the area ideal for GM Financial.
“We make sure we recruit businesses that want to come here because we have a level of infrastructure that is available to them,” Lopez said, referring to the affordable, secured provision of utilities and water as well as local road maintenance and traffic management.
“As we make those kinds of investments, companies like GM Financial recognize the community is ready, willing and able to do the kinds of things needed to provide a good environment for them to come,” Lopez added.
Wayne Peacock, board chairman for the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation, said it is good to know the local employment market was a key factor in GM Financial’s decision to build in San Antonio.
“Know that San Antonio is committed to continuously improving how we prepare and educate our workforce through collaborative education and training programs provided by our local colleges and universities, as well as the broad community effort, SA Works, which is really about taking workforce development to the next level and to prepare our future economy,” he added.
While GM Financial’s commercial investment through job creation is vital, so is community involvement, Berce said, adding that his company will donate financially and offer volunteers to various local causes and events in the years to come. The company encourages volunteerism among its employees.
Berce also announced that GM Financial will soon make a formal $25,000 contribution to My Brother’s Keeper-San Antonio. The organization is the result of Mayor Ivy Taylor’s acceptance of President Obama’s challenge for communities to develop and implement life strategies for boys and men of color. Berce later told a reporter that GM Financial asked Mayor Taylor to suggest a cause the company could support with its first local donation.
“It was a favorite charity of the mayor,” Berce said of My Brother’s Keeper. “It was certainly a personal favor to her.”
Top image: Public officials and GM Financial employees scoop soil marking the ground breaking of a new center that will bring nearly 500 jobs to the city’s far Westside. Photo by Scott Ball.