NTX Magazine Volume 5 - Page 12

feature story “With our major North American business affiliates and leaders together in one location for the first time, we will be better equipped to speed decision-making, share best practices and leverage the combined strength of our employees,” Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota North America, said in a statement. Sharing of intellectual resources, between different parts of the large company, is one reason Toyota is choosing to bring them all under one big, Texas-sized roof. Ground has been broken on the facility, which is expected to be completed in 2016. A pro-business state and a $40 million cash incentive from the Texas Enterprise Fund are just a few of the reasons Toyota chose the North Texas area. “Nothing is more American than Texas, and Toyota wants to establish itself as a heartland company, particularly since it’s already conquered both coasts,” Jesse Toprak, chief analyst at Cars.com, told The Dallas Morning News. “I think there were some strategic considerations here.” The move also puts Toyota closer to most of its manufacturing plants. The company has factories in Tupelo, Miss.; Georgetown, Ky.; San Antonio; Princeton, Ind.; Huntsville, Ala.; and Buffalo, W.Va. Toyota’s 14 North American manufacturing facilities now build 71 percent of the vehicles the company sells in the U.S., up from 55 percent in 2008. Sharing of intellectual resources, between different parts of the large company, is one reason Toyota is choosing to bring them all under one big, Texas-sized roof. “There is no question Texas is the best state to be in,” Lentz told KERA. “I think this area in Plano, northern Texas, is by far the premier place in the country to be.” An educated talent pool in the North Texas area and a low cost of living are often cited as reasons for companies choosing to move to the area. Bestplaces.net estimates the cost of living is 39 percent higher in Torrance, CA, than in Plano, TX, and housing costs are 63 percent lower in North Texas. Like many families, Toyota also considered opportunities for education a top priority. “The backbone of any community is their education system,” Lentz said. “So the fact you have great public schools in this entire area, there’s no reason someone would have to live 15 minutes from their work. And I can tell you today in California that’s not quite possible because of the cost of housing.” Educating - With Gas With its easy accessibility from DFW Airport, many companies see North Texas as a great place to receive not just education for their children – but also for their employees. Atmos Energy Corporation, headquartered in Dallas, is one of the country’s largest natural-gas-only distributors, serving more than three million customers in 1,400 communities from the Blue Ridge Mountains in the east to the Rocky Mountains in the west. Atmos Energy manages natural gas pipeline and storage assets, including one of the largest intrastate natural gas pipeline systems in Texas, and also provides natural gas marketing and procurement services to industrial, commercial and municipal customers primarily in the Midwest and Southeast. As one of the country’s largest gas utility companies, Atmos takes a commitment to safety to heart – and has created one of the nation’s finest centers of knowledge and education at home in North Texas. “Our goal is to be the safest natural gas distributor in the nation,” said Kim Cocklin, president and CEO of Atmos Energy Corporation. Since 2007, Atmos has invested $5 billion dollars to renew and expand its distribution and transmission systems and to improve customer service, with approximately 70 percent of that dedicated to increasing safety and reliability. “Our goal is more than an aspirational ideal. It is a commitment we make to our customers, communities, regulators and investors,” Cocklin said. “Every 10 www.ntc-dfw.org FALL/WINTER 2015 Atmos’s hands-on approach to training is available not only to Atmos employees, but also to first responders, industry workers, SWAT and police teams and other emergency responders who can benefit. employee has taken a pledge to strive to be incident-free every day.” One way that commitment manifests itself is in a hands-on approach to training that is available not only to Atmos employees, but also to first responders, industry workers, SWAT and police teams and other emergency responders who can benefit from training at the Charles K. Vaughan Center, an Atmos facility that annually is a knowledge destination for more than 3,200 visitors and 11,000 Atmos employees. The 48,600-square-foot facility – named for Atmos’s beloved founder – houses a service center, a dispatch department and a state-of-the-art training facility and gas measurement flow lab. The Southern Gas Association and the American Gas Association promote the Vaughan Center as the industry leader in housing a superior, state-of-the-art training facility dedicated to the advancement and safety of the natural gas industry. Welcoming that many visitors each year means a location like North Texas is not just nice to have – it’s vital. “Our location provides convenient access to our customer base as well as hotels, restaurants and airports for those traveling for training,” said Sherry