Cellphone pioneer Motorola on Wednesday opened a Texas manufacturing facility that will create 2,500 jobs and produce its new flagship device, Moto X, the first smartphone ever assembled in the United States.
Gov. Rick Perry and Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, which owns Motorola, were in attendance. Also there was Mike McNamara, CEO of Flextronics Ltd., the Singapore-based International contract electronics manufacturer that will run the plant.
"It's great, and it's a nice statement because it says that manufacturing is returning," Mayor Betsy Price said. "They're great jobs, and they’re working with the universities on [an] doing intern training program, so we couldn't be more pleased about having them here."
Assembly accounts for relatively little of the cost of a smartphone. The cost largely lies in the chips, battery and display, most of which come from Asian factories.
But Motorola says moving assembly to the U.S. will boast efficiency because it means being closer to the product's main end-users -- American phone-buyers.
Each phone is custom made, from the color on the back to the buttons on the side and even the software loaded on the factory floor.
"A single consumer can go on MotoMaker and order the phone, we'll customize that manufacturing right here in the site, build it and ship it directly to their door," said Gregg Locher, of Motorola.
Workers at the factory have a starting pay of $10 to $50 per hour.
The building along the Alliance Corridor in far north Fort Worth sat empty until this spring after Nokia moved out years ago.
"To be able to come back into a factory where the manufacturing jobs have been exported outside the country and then being able to start from zero and bring it back is really an exciting feeling," said Joe Prachyl, Flextronics director of supply chain.
Perry's office administers a pair of special state incentive funds meant to help attract job-creating businesses to Texas, but the governor did not distribute any money to close this deal. Still, Perry said Motorola's decision is a testament to the state's job-creating prowess.
"Make no mistake: Flextronics and Motorola could have put this facility anywhere in the world, but they chose Texas," he said in a statement.
Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside gave Perry a new Moto X in Texas A&M colors during a ceremony marking the grand opening.
Motorola originally said the facility would create 2,000 jobs but Perry said Tuesday that it will mean 2,500 new jobs statewide. He said manufacturing employment statewide has grown more than 7 percent since 2010.