Indo-MIM in Bangalore, India. Courtesy image.

Port San Antonio Board of Directors voted 10-0 on Wednesday to give President/CEO Roland Mower the green light to proceed with a 20-year lease agreement with India-based advanced manufacturer Indo-MIM. The award-winning company, founded in 1998, produces precision component parts through metal injection molding (MIM) technology.

The company’s decision to establish operations at Port SA is a significant achievement for City and County officials, who spent several months crafting an incentive package for Indo-MIM to establish its first U.S.-based facility here. Its arrival also expands San Antonio’s international trade and business connections with another major nation with no prior businesses located here. India is the seventh largest country by land mass, the second most populated with 1.2 billion people, with one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing economies.

Indo-MIM will operate from an existing 58,000 sq. ft. facility at Port San Antonio with a total $24 million investment. The company will launch operations here by Fall 2016 with a startup workforce of more than 100 local employees, growing to somewhere between 300 and 350 workers within five years. Average wages for employees at the Port site will start in the low $30,000 range, according to Paco Felici, Port San Antonio’s vice president of communications.

The company’s ability to produce at least 300 jobs within a fixed time frame is a key element for corresponding incentives packages. Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said the Commissioners Court will soon entertain a proposal for 85% tax abatement on personal property at the work site. The abatement is estimated to cost $500,000-$600,000 over 10 years.

Port officials said the former U.S. Air Force Base-turned-industrial and business park on San Antonio’s Southwest side has strong road, rail and air connections that will allow the company to better serve and grow its customer base in the North and South American markets.

Port officials have been stressing the positive benefits that Port San Antonio can offer to potential new aerospace, manufacturing and technology tenants, as well as those provided to existing tenants such as The Boeing Co. and Lockheed-Martin. Port San Antonio has an objective to add 5,000 new jobs on site by 2020.

Indo-MIM operations in Bangalore, India. Courtesy image.
Indo-MIM operations in Bangalore, India. Courtesy image.

Manufacturers in the aerospace, automotive, biomedical equipment, defense and other advanced industries use Indo-MIM’s products. County Judge Wolff told the Rivard Report the arrival of Indo-MIM is a “step in the right direction” in helping the San Antonio area to further a goal of attracting high-paying, high-skilled jobs. He added Indo-MIM would take advantage of an increasingly diversifying local workforce, especially with new local initiatives that emphasize career fields such as engineering, manufacturing and aerospace.

“To think that at the start of the year, there was no concentrated effort to emphasize these industries. There was no San Antonio Works, no Tech Bloc. Now they’re here. All of these and more things are generating a new way of doing business in San Antonio,” Wolff said.

The San Antonio Economic Development Foundation (EDF) was Indo-MIM’s first local point of contact, and led efforts to identify an ideal and flexible location that would allow for a fast start-up.

City Economic Development Director Rene Dominguez told the Rivard Report that Indo-MIM choosing to begin its first U.S. operation in San Antonio “hits on a number of strategic goals that the City Council supports, such as bolstering targeted industries, foreign investment, high-skill, high-paying jobs, workforce development, redevelopment of the port.”

The City’s Economic Development Department is proposing a 100% personal property tax abatement over 10 years. The City would also award the company a $500,000 Economic Development Incentive Fund (EDIF) grant, which focuses on the creation of more than 300 high-wage skilled jobs.

The Council will consider the City’s incentives package in November. Once the Commissioners Court and the City Council sign off on the corresponding incentives packages, the Port will finalize its development agreement with Indo-MIM. Dominguez and Judge Wolff agreed that Indo-MIM also helps to boost San Antonio’s profile as a prime place for foreign commercial investment.

“We also feel Indo-MIM is complementary for our targeted industries such as aerospace, maintenance/repair/overhaul (MRO), manufacturing and biotechnology,” Dominguez said.

“It can really help us to compete as we keep developing our workforce,” Wolff added.

San Antonio Economic Development Foundation President and CEO Mario Hernandez echoed Dominguez and Judge Wolff’s sentiment.

“Indo-MIM’s 300 new jobs in advanced manufacturing will have a dramatic and long-lasting impact on San Antonio’s economy,” he said.

County Judge Nelson Wolff speaks with a community member. Photo by Scott Ball.
County Judge Nelson Wolff speaks with a community member. Photo by Scott Ball.

Company officials said San Antonio has everything necessary to make Indo-MIM’s first U.S. operation a successful one. The company currently has a global workforce of more than 2,000 employees, most based in Bangalore, India. Indo-MIM’s annual global sales exceed  $100 million, led by customer support offices in Germany, China, Taiwan, Japan, and Princeton, New Jersey.

Company CEO Krishna Chivukula Jr. said in a release: “San Antonio’s Economic Development Foundation and Port San Antonio ultimately clinched the deal due to the sophistication of the local manufacturing and industrial culture, strong workforce solutions providers and the City of San Antonio’s and Bexar County’s ability to work with private and public entities to create the right environment for a globalized manufacturing company to thrive long-term.”

“Indo-MIM is excited at the prospect of being able to participate in the development of the San Antonio community by providing stable jobs in advanced manufacturing in the years to come,” Chivukula added.

Port leaders and other City officials praised Indo-MIM’s decision to set up shop at Port San Antonio.

“This is a terrific win for the community. It underscores the importance of local collaboration as the key to attract and grow important employers from around the world,” said Port President/CEO Roland Mower. “We look forward to continue working hand-in-hand with Indo-MIM and our local partners to establish the company’s first manufacturing operation in the U.S. and ensure its success for years to come.”

Board Chairman Dan Weingart described Indo-MIM’s arrival as “an extremely positive event for the Port.”

“Eighteen months ago or so, we recommitted to job recreation as a mission at the port. We hope that this is the first of many such developments,” Weingart added.

Mayor Ivy Taylor said San Antonio is moving ever closer to becoming a major destination for international companies seeking a U.S. base of operations.

“The decision by Indo-MIM to establish its first U.S. facility here at Port San Antonio, the quality of the advanced manufacturing jobs this company brings, and their plans to scale up rapidly — are all a testament to the highly trained workforce we have in our city,” Taylor added.

City Councilmember Rey Saldaña (D4) said he is particularly proud about this major addition to the Port’s portfolio.

“Port San Antonio has always been an excellent location for investment within my district. The expansion of a leading global supplier in their industry like Indo-MIM to the Port further exemplifies its continued importance as a place of job creation in San Antonio,” Saldaña said.

*Top image: Indo-MIM in Bangalore, India. Courtesy image. 

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Edmond Ortiz

Edmond Ortiz, a lifelong San Antonian, is a freelance reporter/editor who has worked with the San Antonio Express-News and Prime Time Newspapers.