New wind energy plant aims to bring 300 jobs to Amarillo

New wind energy plant aims to bring 300 jobs to Amarillo

Amarillo, TX - More than 300 new jobs could be coming to Amarillo.

For the past year, the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) has been in talks with Gestamp Renewable Industries to manufacture wind towers here in Amarillo. Tuesday, the Amarillo City Council approved an incentive agreement to make sure that happens.

Gestamp is a Spanish energy company looking to expand in the U.S. and it believes Amarillo is the right first move. "There is a lot of renewable wind production in North Texas, Kansas, New Mexico and Oklahoma, so being close to that end user was always a very critical part of the project and the site it ultimately chose to build its manufacturing facility," explained Lee Higgins, a consultant for Gestamp.

The company plans to build a $41 million plant at the CenterPort Business Park off northeast Loop 335. Gestamp promises to add 300 jobs with an estimated annual payroll of more than $13 million.

In return, the company will receive a few incentives from the AEDC. "Gestamp is receiving support from the AEDC," said AEDC president and CEO Buzz David. "We are providing $3.3 million to improve the site and to bring rail into the site. What that is going to do is invest in our own CenterPort Business Park. They will then go and hire people, employ them, build wind towers and hopefully bring a lot of other business into this community."

The city council approved the incentive agreement, but this time the new council members required more from the AEDC before green lighting the project.

"Typically, the agreements are drafted between the AEDC and the client," said David. "The city council doesn't look at those a lot. Our new council members were interested. They wanted to see what an agreement looked like. I think they were pleased to see a 28 page plus attachments agreement that covers every base that we can imagine. It protects the company. It  protects the community. It makes sure that if there were ever a problem and a default that we can recover our investment. I think they were very satisfied that it does exactly that."

"We said we would not support that (the project) until we had the contract and were able to review the contract," said council member Elisha Demerson. "We were able to do that and it was a win-win for everyone."

Demerson said the council will continue to read all future contracts that require a vote.

Gestamp expects to start construction on the wind tower plant in early 2016.