Officials with the Sherman Economic Development Corp. issued a $270,000 incentive check for Finisar Friday morning, effectively bringing an end to the organization's incentives company. Friday's presentation represents the final payment in more than $1 million of incentives that SEDCO offered the tech company following its relocation to Sherman.
“This (project) has gone by very fast,” Vice President of Operations Jeff Brown said Friday. “I think for me and most of my staff it has been the busiest two years of our lives.”
It was in late 2017 when Finisar, which produces vertical-cavity surface-emiting lasers, announced that it had purchased the 700,000 square foot former MEMC building with plans to produce the laser technology in Sherman. The laser technology is used in many of Apple's most recent iPhone products.
In total, the company invested more than $160 million between the purchase of the facility and remodelling and improvement expenses. SEDCO Vice President Stacey Jones said the development corp often offers incentives based on a percentage of the proposed investment, but few projects have been to the size of Finisar's improvements.
“This was a very large amount so we capped it at $1 million,” she said.
The addition of Finisar to Sherman's technology community could have ripple effects for future development in Sherman, Jones said. With the company starting production in Sherman, Jones said this can be used as a recruiting tool and an example of the city's business market.
“Finisar has put Sherman on the international map with other, similar corporations,” SEDCO Board Chair Brad Douglass said.
In addition to the investment, Douglass said the Finisar deal was a good move for SEDCO as it filled one of the city's production facilities that had been vacant for the better part of a decade. The MEMC facility, which opened its doors in 1997, produced silicon ingots and wafers for semiconductor and solar photovoltaic uses. The facility officially closed its doors in early 2011 following a staggered halt to production.
With the building now occupied, Douglass said Finisar serves as a good welcoming sight to visitors in the city.
“Having an empty building along the highway, on the gateway to our community, doesn't send the right message about Sherman,” he said.
Despite ramping up production in August, Brown said the building is still under construction. Workers were busy working on final improvements to the third floor office space Friday morning. These final touches are expected to be complete by Oct. 17.
Once the improvements are complete, the company can finish migrating employees from its Allen facility to Sherman. Between the two plants, Brown said Finisar employs about 530 people and the majority would be relocating to Sherman facility.
“Every day there are more and more people transitioning and moving up here,” he said.
The last of the Allen employees are expected to move to the Sherman facility by the end of the month. Then, the company can complete the final moving.
Construction could still be in the cards for Finisar in the future, but Brown said there are no concrete plans at this time. In November, II-VI Inc., pronounced Two-Six, announced plans to purchase Finisar in a $3.2 billion deal.
Given the size of Finisar's Sherman Plant, there have been discussions of moving more production or office positions to the facility. The fourth floor, which could add additional office space, has yet to be improved and other parts of the facility could be improved to serve as production space.