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DCOA invests $8.48 million in Abilene businesses

By Brian Bethel for Abilene Reporter-News

The Development Corporation of Abilene invested $8.48 million in assistance to local companies, according to its most recent six-month snapshot ending in March.

That should result in an estimated $46.27 million in capital investment, including the DCOA’s contributions, by the recipients, according to the report.

The figures represent a “good half-year,” said Richard Burdine, the DCOA’s interim chief executive officer.

“This year we have 100 percent Abilene companies, (whereas) last year it was a very low percentage,” he said of the assistance described in the report.

Fehr Foods received the most assistance, $5,120,000, for a major production expansion into cracker production. The company will invest up to $30 million toward the purchase of the former Sam’s Club building on South First Street, facility improvements and equipment.

The investment will create 105 new jobs, according to the DCOA.

Fehr also received $200,000 in assistance for its capital investment plan, paid over three years at 10 percent of the company’s actual capital investment in automated equipment, energy efficiency upgrades, employee safety upgrades and environmental safety upgrades.

Those improvements, estimated to cost $2 million, will be made at the company’s cookie production plant on North First Street.

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Fehr will maintain its existing employment level at its cookie plant.

Other assistance included:

$77,717 to Clavel Corp. a manufacturer of topical body products. That figure includes $48,200 for job creation incentives for 5.7 new full-time positions, plus $29,517 for capital improvement incentives.

$553,750 to “Project BE,” which provides a range of services to help oil and gas producers keep more than 900,000 existing wells in production. The company employs 46 people and anticipates hiring 29 more.

$452,000 to Smith Pipe for expansion. The capital investment assistance is 10 percent of the company’s investment of $4.52 million.

$455,200 to Corley Wetsel Trucking. The company is looking to relocate to land on the north access road of Interstate 20. The company employs 92 with a yearly payroll in excess of $4 million.

$1.625 million to Broadwind Towers, including $516,000 in job creation incentives for any new full-time jobs in excess of 115, and $220,000 to extend a railroad line. The figure also includes sale and financing of a 10.9-acre plot in the Five Points Business Park, valued at $165,653, and installation of limestone base material. DCOA will finance up to 75 percent of that cost, up to $726,075.

In other business, the board:

Approved $23,000 in assistance to help improve Dyess Air Force Base’s infrastructure.

Burdine said that as the likelihood of another Base Realignment & Closure process is debated in Congress, the Abilene Chamber of Commerce’s Military Affairs Committee has focused on improving the base’s rating.

Two deficiencies identified by the committee are that Dyess has only one connection for telecommunications and only one for high-speed data transmission and Internet. A second independent connection is needed for both to provide needed redundancy.

The cost to provide a second telecommunications connection is around $21,000, based on information from vendors.

Burdine said he added a 10 percent contingency to that figure to come up with the $23,000 the board approved Tuesday.

Heard six-month reports from the Abilene Airport Business Development Management Program, the Abilene Industrial Foundation and the Texas Tech University Small Business Development Center.

Heard the most recent sales tax report. The sales tax rebate for May was $3.92 million, 1.69 percent above last year, but a fraction of a percent below the projected fiscal year 2013 budget amount.

For October through May, sales tax revenue is 1.67 percent below last year, and 3.6 percent below budget.


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