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Workforce Talent Is Why Companies Like Parallel, Iron Ox Choose Our Region

This column was originally published in the San Marcos Daily Record on April 28, 2021.

Last week, the Greater San Marcos Partnership (GSMP) participated in two groundbreakings for innovative companies — Parallel and Iron Ox — who picked the Texas Innovation Corridor as their new home. As disruptive agricultural cultivators, these companies are bringing tens of millions of dollars in capital investment and hundreds of new, locally sourced jobs. Notably though, both companies chose Hays and Caldwell counties (respectively) because of the talented, high-skill workforce that resides there. 
 
Parallel, one of the largest privately held multi-state cannabis operators in the United States, selected San Marcos, Texas as the location to establish its new 63,000 square foot cultivation facility and flagship goodblend™ Texas (formerly Surterra Texas) retail location. Authorized by the 2015 Texas Compassionate Use Act and fully compliant with state regulations, goodblend is a state-licensed operation that cultivates, manufactures and sells cannabis-based products.
 
Iron Ox, another industry disruptor, is a leader in robotics and AI-enabled farming with a mission to solve food insecurity. First announced in November 2020, the company just broke ground on their 535,000 square foot facility, the largest industrial facility in Caldwell County. Their new, state-of-the-art facility will feature natural light greenhouses, processing operations, and AI-enabled robots to bring fresh, clean and healthy food to new customers and communities throughout Texas.
 
In total, $35 million in capital investment will be invested by these companies in their first phase and result in hundreds of new jobs with good wages and benefits for our local workforce. As their operations expand in the region, more investment and more jobs will follow. 
 
Marcus Ruark, the president of goodblend Texas, specifically cited the diverse talent that resides in the footprint as a reason for the company’s expansion. goodblend anticipates a wide range of job roles to be filled, including cultivation, manufacturing, analytical chemistry, formulation science, marketing, customer support, and retail.
 
Brandon Alexander, a Texas native and the CEO of Iron Ox, echoed the statements, praising the agricultural roots of Lockhart merging with the tech savviness of the region. Calling Iron Ox’s new facility as “a return home” at the groundbreaking ceremony on April 20, Alexander sees a community that can meet the workforce needs of a large-scale, high-tech hydroponic farm right here in the Texas Innovation Corridor.
 
Both company leaders are right on when it comes to the talent our region has to offer. 
 
Workforce is the number one factor in almost all site selection processes, and our region continually proves that we have the talent that companies need. With a labor force of over one million people within a 30-mile radius of San Marcos alone, the workforce pipeline is highly attractive to companies looking to expand or relocate. The talent here is well-educated and skilled, thanks to institutions like Texas State, CTE programs in our local school districts, and technical training programs like at Austin Community College – Hays Campus and Gary Job Corps.
 
A strong workforce increases wages, attracts new and better-paying jobs, and improves the quality of life for our residents. Parallel and Iron Ox are the latest businesses to realize our region’s talent, and I am delighted to welcome these companies to the Texas Innovation Corridor.
 
We look forward to welcoming even more businesses that realize our region’s highly skilled and in-demand workforce.
 
If you have questions about the companies that relocate to our region or why they choose the Texas Innovation Corridor, my door is always open. I can be contacted at jasong@greatersanmarcostx.com or Twitter at @JasonGiulietti. If you have questions about how GSMP interacts with these companies, I strongly recommend checking out all of our Vision 2025 documents, which is the community-built strategic plan for economic development. They are available on our website at greatersanmarcostx.com/vision2025.
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