Motorola Mobility deal unusual for not seeking tax incentives

Posted Monday, Jun. 03, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Motorola Mobility’s decision to have contract manufacturer Flextronics build its new Moto X phone in Fort Worth — aside from bringing production back from Asia — is that none of the parties asked for a government handout.

“It’s rare,” said Jay Chapa, the city official in charge of economic development.

What’s more common is for corporations, from assemblers to retailers, to play cities and states against one another to extract help with infrastructure and hefty tax breaks. It’s become the American way of aiding the people with already deep pockets, even as deep as Google, the search engine giant that owns Motorola Mobility.

The company’s move to Alliance bucks that trend, but neither Motorola nor Flextronics will say why they didn’t ask.

Motorola did disclose to us that Flextronics will spend $25 million retrofitting the leased plant and hire as many as 2,000 workers over several months.

The Alliance plant was originally occupied by another cellphone maker, Nokia, which eventually shifted its production to Mexico and Asia and closed the factory. Then came another electronics manufacturer, Q-Edge, a subsidiary of Taiwan’s FoxConn. But it quietly folded up and skipped town — so quietly, we’re not even sure when it decamped.

Mark Randall, Motorola’s executive in charge of operations, rattled off several reasons why it chose Fort Worth:

• An existing facility designed to produce mobile devices with good layout and flow.

• A free-trade zone, so the company can easily ship products.

• A location in the heart of Texas’ telecom corridor.

• Alliance and DFW airports provide great access to import raw material and export devices.

• Relative proximity (12 hours by truck) to the company’s repair business.

Angelic investments

Cowtown Angels, a program of TECH Fort Worth, said it recently made its largest investment in a startup since it was founded in September.

The group has invested $620,000 in Wisegate Inc., a 2-year-old Austin firm that has created a research service for senior technology managers to share information.

Wisegate is Cowtown Angels’ fourth investment. It was the lead investor group in the deal, which included three other angel networks.

Cowtown Angels connects local “angel investors” with companies needing startup capital. It has 20 members, typically high net worth individuals — exceeding $1 million — who invest in promising entrepreneurial businesses in return for company stock.

Cowtown Angels meets monthly to review requests. It has invested $1.4 million in four companies and has two deals under consideration. The others are $345,000 in PerioSciences, which developed a line of antioxidant oral care products; $125,000 in National Dental Implant, which is developing a nonsurgical tooth replacement; and $325,000 in Inview Technology Corp., which develops compressive sensing cameras.

Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727 Twitter: @SandraBakerFWST Jim Fuquay, 817-390-7552 Twitter: @jimfuquay Barry Shlachter, 817-390-7718 Twitter: @bshlachter

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