French manufacturer Schneider Electric adding 4th El Paso factory, 400 new jobs

Editor’s Note: This story was updated to correct the amount of  tax and other incentives from El Paso County to almost $276,000 for the Schneider Electric factory.

Schneider Electric is expanding its mammoth manufacturing complex in West El Paso with a new, $20 million factory that will add another 400 employees to its large El Paso workforce, government and company officials announced Tuesday.

El Paso’s four-factory campus will be the French company’s largest manufacturing center in the United States. It currently has 16 other factories in the U.S.

Company officials announced in November they were deciding whether to put the new factory in El Paso or in an industrial park in neighboring Santa Teresa, New Mexico.

Schneider chose El Paso because of the good, stable workforce, and easy to work with El Paso leaders, but a big part of the decision was having the “campus synergy,” said Ken Engel, senior vice president for global supply chain for the company’s North America group.

El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser shakes hands with Schneider Electric executive Ken Engel during a group photoshoot after a Feb. 15 press conference announcing the company's El Paso expansion plans. El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego, far right, and City Manager Tommy Gonzalez also are in the photo.

“We can offer jobs to the employees in all our factories on the campus and we can move people back and forth as needed. So, that’s a big benefit to having a campus,” Engel said after a news conference at El Paso City Hall, where Schneider was lauded by El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser, El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego, Borderplex Alliance CEO Jon Barela, and others.

Global supply chain problems tied to the COVID-19 pandemic also make it important for Schneider to increase its manufacturing capacity in the United States, Engel said during the news conference.

The company is to receive almost $1.5 million in tax rebates and other incentives over 10 years from the city, and almost $276,000 in tax rebates and a training grant from the county, according to term sheets approved Tuesday by City Council and Monday by El Paso County Commissioners Court. Economic agreements with the company are to be completed later.

“Incentives were one of the factors we considered, but there were many, many variables that we took a look at before we made the final decision,” Engel said.

Schneider Electric executive Ken Engel talks to El Paso Electric CEO Kelly Tomblin as El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego looks on after a Feb. 15 press conference announcing Schneider Electric's El Paso expansion plans.

The city and county incentives package approval came after construction of the new factory had already begun.

“It (160,000 square-foot factory) is being built right now,” and is expected to be completed by the end of the year, Engel said.

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Schneider Electric now employs about 1,300 workers in mostly skilled factory jobs in three factory buildings with 576,000 square feet in the Northwest Corporate Center industrial park in far West El Paso. A company spokesman incorrectly reported to the El Paso Times in November that the campus had four factories.

It plans to add another 400 employees by the end of the year, Engel said.

Leeser said after the news conference the El Paso workers are what made Schneider stay and expand in El Paso.

“They can get incentives anywhere else, but they can’t get the people,” Leeser said. However, he added, providing incentives also allowed El Paso to better compete for the new factory.

This huge 1601 Northwestern Drive building is part of Schneider Electric's mammoth manufacturing complex in the Northwest Corporate Center industrial park in far West El Paso on Nov. 11, 2021.

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A variety of electrical equipment, including switchboards, panelboards and switchgear, are produced at the El Paso complex. The new factory will produce engineered-to-order switchboards for commercial facilities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

“This is not a simple product,” Engel said at the press conference. It’s made to customer specification and “has a lot of difficult work inside it.”

“So, training the workforce is extremely important, and it’s important for those employees to stay with us after they are trained, and that is what has happened with the other three factories and we know that’s what will take place in this fourth factory as well,” he said.

Vic Kolenc may be reached at 546-6421; on Twitter.