With three new companies, Temple sees fruits of energy boom

Feb 28, 2014
Austin Business Journal

Temple, Texas, may not occupy the same number of headlines as Austin, but the town of more than 60,000 is increasingly becoming a destination for high-dollar energy investment


In a little more than one year, Temple has landed three energy companies that have made a combined commitment to invest more than $500 million in energy-related ventures. The companies include Dallas-based Panda Power Funds; Midland, Texas' Don-Nan Pump & Supply Co.; and Austin's Thomas Biodiesel LLC


The town about an hour north of Austin has proved attractive because of the cheaper labor market, lower real estate prices and central location within the Texas Triangle cities of San Antonio, Dallas and Houston. Temple's labor force is the biggest reason companies are landing in the city, said Charlie Ayers, vice president of the Temple Economic Development Corp.



For some companies, Temple's central location makes it easy to access San Antonio, Dallas, Houston and Austin. Panda Power, which expects to complete a 758-megawatt natural gas power plant in Temple by the end of 2014, saw the location as central to large markets that will need power, Ayers said. Panda is the biggest of the new investments, with a $500 million plant, that will create 24 long-term jobs and as many as 700 construction jobs


In addition, Thomas Biodiesel, which will open a $30 million manufacturing plant in Temple in mid-2015, will make use of the proximity to Austin's job market and the town's rail infrastructure


While an energy boom may create massive investment, it hasn't created the same number of jobs that high-tech industries have created elsewhere. For example, while the Panda Power plant may be a $500 million facility, it only comes with 27 long-term jobs. For comparison, Apple Inc.'s investment in Austin brought a $100 million investment and more than 3,000 new jobs



In many cases too, the companies are lured with incentives deals. Those are intended to defray the high costs of making such large investments


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