Decision to shift operations will cost jobs here and in Japan
By Elsa Maxey
Texas Instruments (TI), the iconic 45 year old company in Stafford along with another computer chip company in Japan will be closing. The one locally…by the end of the year.
“Obviously this is a significant event,” said Stafford Mayor Leonard Scarcella, “and it is something we regret seeing.” Mayor Scarcella told the “Star” that at about 1:30 Monday afternoon, after he heard TI was laying off 125 employees. A company official called him with the news. “We’re looking at it from the standpoint of adversity. We truly feel we have to work hard to turn adversity into opportunity,” said the mayor.
TI Spokesperson Whitney Jodry from Dallas, where the company is headquartered, told the “Star” on Tuesday that the closure decision is “impacting people we care about and we are committed to the Houston area and will remain in Houston.”
The spokesperson also said that the company is continually assessing its factories based on their effectiveness and the demand for products. Jodry said the cost to upgrade the facilities was greater than to move product production to other facilities within the TI operations.
In Stafford, there are 1,000 employees that work with TI and about 500 from the local site at the manufacturing factory, which is already up for sale, according to Jodry, will be gone by the end of the year, when the facility will close. Some of the jobs will end in July and the majority by December. Jodry said there are 1,000 TI local employees, 500 factory employees and another 500 are part of the “digital signal processor arm of the business,” like engineers and designers. That part of the TI business will remain in the Houston area, she said.
“Factory employees will be given an opportunity to apply for employment with other TI facilities,” said Jodry. TI has a total of 13 factories at the present time, 11 after the closures, and six of the sites, including the one in Stafford, are in Texas.
The TI company in Stafford will take “a year to ramp down the factory,” will work closely with employees, said Jodry, “to provide assistance,” and there will be a retention bonus if employees stay until they are released. For those not relocated, in addition to extended pay and benefits such as medical insurance and placement services, there will also be assistance for going back to school for those interested. “Our company wants to do right by these employees,” Jodry said.
Mayor Scarcella said that about 15 years ago, TI comprised approximately 25 percent of the city’s economy and now, it stands at about one-tenth of that, about 2.5 percent. “Trailblazers” is what the mayor called the company in recognition of how it “brought development by the Southwest Freeway and opened Fort Bend County” on the 300-acre site he calls prime real estate. He noted that the city had seen the handwriting on the wall calling attention to the property’s assessed value of $120 million in 2007, which this year was $49 million “in round figures,” and he said “they made it know they were not going to expand nor do anything else other than operate.”
Only 100 acres of the beautifully landscaped property is where TI’s operations were housed, said the Mayor Scarcella, and on the 200 acres along West Airport, where the fields are, it would be a prime location for many things. “We’re already getting calls,” he said, and “people are interested in buying that site.”