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Moto X: First Smartphone To Be Assembled In U.S.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Now let's go to Texas for another follow-up - where Motorola Mobility's new smartphone, Moto X, is set to become the first smartphone ever assembled in the U.S.

As Lauren Silverman of member station KERA reports, the Google-owned company has already begun hiring for its new plant in Fort Worth.

LAURA SILVERMAN, BYLINE: There are more than 130 million smartphones in the U.S. But none of them say assembled in the USA. When Motorola debuts its Moto X this summer, it will be the first.

MARK RANDALL: We believe in a philosophy of being close to the end consumption point of our consumers, and the U.S. is a large market.

SILVERMAN: Mark Randall is a Motorola's senior vice president. He says rival companies have shied away from manufacturing here in recent years because of high labor costs. Randall says those are dropping, and Motorola sees other advantages.

RANDALL: But we factor in things like transportation, some other kind of value added services that we're able to offer our consumers in the future.

SILVERMAN: Fort Worth might not seem like an obvious choice, but the city is logistics heaven. There's an industrial airport with a low tax rate, access to a large freight rail network and...

RANDALL: The facility we're actually moving into is a previous Nokia facility. And it's designed perfectly to be a cell phone manufacturing facility.

SILVERMAN: The area is also home to the so-called telecom corridor - where companies such as Verizon, Ericsson and AT&T have offices. Fort Worth's mayor, Betsy Price, says Motorola will bring two thousand jobs.

MAYOR BETSY PRICE: We don't have a high unemployment rate. But that said, you always have people moving into the region and people looking to upgrade their jobs, and we think these Motorola jobs will be great for that.

SILVERMAN: The Moto X will have high tech sensors that detect when it's in your pocket, or when you're driving down the freeway. That's all the sneak peak we get for now.

Whether the new features and Made in America slogan will ramp up sales for Motorola isn't clear, but it looks like a boost for American manufacturing.

For NPR News, I'm Lauren Silverman in Dallas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Lauren Silverman is the Health, Science & Technology reporter/blogger at KERA News. She is also the primary backup host for KERA’s Think and the statewide newsmagazine Texas Standard. In 2016, Lauren was recognized as Texas Health Journalist of the Year by the Texas Medical Association. She was part of the Peabody Award-winning team that covered Ebola for NPR in 2014. She also hosted "Surviving Ebola," a special that won Best Long Documentary honors from the Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI). And she's won a number of regional awards, including an honorable mention for Edward R. Murrow award (for her project “The Broken Hip”), as well as the Texas Veterans Commission’s Excellence in Media Awards in the radio category.