One of Cedar Park’s largest private-sector employers plans to expand to meet heightened demand for a piece of equipment it makes that is used in data centers.
ETS-Lindgren Inc. — which two decades ago became the first company to relocate to the suburb northwest of Austin as part of the city’s economic development efforts — late last month detailed plans to move into a long-vacant warehouse at 3310 W. Whitestone Blvd., on the west side of Cedar Park.
The company, which is a subsidiary of St. Louis-based ESCO Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: ESE), manufactures electromagnetic and acoustic energy components and ensures electronics components don’t interfere with each other. ETS-Lindgren opened a 70,000-square-foot building at 1301 Arrow Point Dr. in 2001 and is now Cedar Park’s third-largest private-sector employer with 330 employees, according to the city.
On May 25, the Cedar Park City Council approved an economic development performance agreement between the Cedar Park Economic Development (Type A) Corporation and Excalibur Research Development & Manufacturing LLC to reimburse a maximum $300,000 to extend utility lines for the new building, as well as surrounding tracts. ETS-Lindgren is finalizing a lease with Excalibur, a fellow manufacturer, to occupy the facility.
Council also approved nominating ETS-Lindgren for Texas Enterprise Zone designation, a state sales and use tax refund program designed to create jobs in economically distressed areas. The application will head to the governor’s office for review.
ETS-Lindgren was initially approved for the $300,000 grant during a May 16 meeting of the Cedar Park Economic Development (Type A) Corporation. During that meeting, officials said the company plans to add 50 jobs and invest $2.1 million in the new facility, which will be about 43,000 square feet and include manufacturing, office and warehouse space.
As part of the agreement, 50% of the grant will be paid out once the project is completed and the infrastructure improvements are approved into the city system. The second will half will be paid out once the site is occupied and the company proves it invested at least $1.5 million in the facility.
“Our local business is our top priority, so we want to help them expand when we can help them expand, and this is one of those opportunities,” Ben White, Cedar Park economic development director, said during the May 16 meeting.
ETS-Lindgren Chief Financial Officer Andy Warner said the company has seen an influx of demand during the coronavirus pandemic, and that it is “busting at the seams” at the current location on Arrow Point Drive, with more demand then it can meet right now. It is partnering with Excalibur, with the 50 jobs split between the two, and are in the final stages of negotiation a five-year lease.
He said the company has primarily seen demand spike for a filter that is used in data centers — at the same time the northern Austin suburbs have become a hotbed for data center development — and needs additional space for their production. ETS-Lindgren also needs at least 30,000 square feet to manufacture shielding. Executives plan to move shielding operation to the new site, while expanding the other Cedar Park facilities for producing filters. Warner said that will likely add about 25 jobs on the shielding line.
The Arrow Point facility has two lines dedicated to electromagnetic pulse/high voltage high-altitude electromagnetic pulse filters. By moving shielding to the Whitestone Boulevard facility, it can set up two more filter lines at the existing plant, Warner said.
He added that the goal is to move into the facility by the end of the fiscal year, acknowledging some concerns from the board about hiring in a competitive manufacturing market.
“With all the big companies moving into Austin, the Teslas and all those, competition has been exponential the last few years,” he said. “We can’t always compete with them on price, so we’ve been trying to differentiate ourselves in different ways. … Anything we can do to get more access to broader skill sets, because there are certain types of capabilities that we don’t have.”
It’s another injection of jobs for Cedar Park, which is about 20 miles northwest of downtown Austin. Cedar Park had 78,693 residents in 2021, up from 48,937 in 2010, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
That growth has attracted a slew of corporate relocations and expansions, including Shop LC Global Inc., a television shopping network that is expected employ at least 1,000 people by 2033, which could make it the city’s largest employer; baseball and softball scouting company Perfect Game Inc., which will create 40 jobs and dozens of athletics fields as part of a wider mixed-use development off Ronald Reagan Boulevard; Hyliion Holdings Corp., a trucking technology company; and Firefly Aerospace Inc., a space commercialization company.
Shares of ESCO Technologies were trading at $68.10 apiece on the afternoon of June 7, according to Google Finance, giving it a market capitalization of $1.75 billion.