Houston Lures Clean Energy Companies Seeking New Home Base
As America’s oil capital continues its push to build a greener economy, cleantech innovators are finding a home in an unlikely town
Houston’s Texas-sized push to build a cleaner, more competitive economy is luring alternative energy businesses and giving the nation’s oil and gas capital an increasingly green tinge.
John Higgins, CEO of NeuTex Advanced Energy Group, said an extra-warm welcome from City Hall last year persuaded him to choose Houston to manufacture the firm’s energy-efficient LED lighting.
The development and construction company has been based in Houston for more than 20 years, but NeuTex was looking at cities across the country for its nascent lighting division after deciding to close most of its China-based operations, due partly to rising labor costs.
“Tax breaks weren’t real important to us,” Higgins told SolveClimate News. “We looked for a team in a city that would embrace energy efficiency and would embrace sustainable technology.”
Mayor Annise Parker’s office reached out to NeuTex and ensured it could support the firm by championing sustainable building initiatives and giving NeuTex visibility among developers and engineers.
“We thought that if we can be taken seriously in Houston, Texas, then we can be taken seriously anywhere in the world,” Higgins said.
In March, NeuTex began the demolition and reconstruction of a vacant facility to serve as its U.S.-based headquarters and manufacturing hub for lighting, which together will create at least 250 jobs in the next two years, Higgins said. He added that NeuTex took no incentives or tax benefits from the city for the project.
Higgins said he expects lighting to account for 90 percent of the firm’s revenues over the next year — up from just 25 percent today — while its main commercial construction division will shrink to 10 percent. The green shift could boost NeuTex’s revenue to $30 million in 2012, up from nearly $3 million last year.
By Maria Gallucci, InsideClimate News