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Motorola opens first US-assembled smartphone plant
 

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt speaks at the opening of the Flextronics plant in north Fort Worth. Photo by Bob Francis/Fort Worth Business Press

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Cellphone pioneer Motorola on Tuesday opened a Texas manufacturing facility that will create 2,500 jobs and produce its new flagship device, Moto X, the first smartphone ever assembled in the U.S.

Gov. Rick Perry and Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, which owns Motorola, were in attendance. Also there was Mike McNamara, CEO of Flextronics Ltd., a Singapore-based International contract electronics manufacturer that will run the 480,000-square foot plant.

Assembly accounts for relatively little of the cost of a smartphone. The cost largely lies in the chips, battery and display, most of which come from Asian factories.

But Motorola says moving assembly to the U.S. will boast efficiency because it means being closer to the product's main end-users — American phone-buyers. Mark Randall, Motorola's seniorve vice president of supply chain and operations said moving production closer to the consumers allows Mortorola's customers, such as AT&T, the ability to offer consumers a custom-built phone that will arrive at their home six days after it is ordered. 

"We'll be cutting that to four days soon," said Randall, hired from another company with order-fulfillment expertise, Amazon.com. "We'd like to see that cut to two eventually," he said. 

Keith Connolly, vice president of consumer supply chain at AT&T, said the ability to do that means a big information technology committment. "We've got to have integration between these two companies, Motorola and AT&T as well as Flextronics to make that timeframe work," he said. 

Perry's office administers a pair of special state incentive funds meant to help attract job-creating businesses to Texas, but the governor did not distribute any money to close this deal. Still, Perry said Motorola's decision is a testament to the state's job-creating prowess.

"Make no mistake: Flextronics and Motorola could have put this facility anywhere in the world, but they chose Texas," he said in a statement.

Motorola originally said the facility would create 2,000 jobs but Perry said Tuesday that it will mean 2,500 new jobs statewide. He said manufacturing employment statewide has grown more than 7 percent since 2010.
 

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said the city didn't provide any incentives for the project either. 

"Manufacturing is coming back and it's a big win that it's coming back to Fort Worth," she said. 

Robert Francis of the Fort Worth Business Press contributed to this report. 

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