By AMANDA KIMBLE
STEPHENVILLE (November 18, 2016) – Stephenville Economic Development Authority (SEDA) board of directors made a big move Thursday to pave the way for future development.
Little information was given on a $50,000 investment unanimously approved by the board, but Executive Director John Hubbard said the funding assistance would cover engineering design fees for the construction of a traffic signal.
The proposed location for the traffic control device is U.S. Highway 377 and Christy Plaza, which is the street leading to Pets Supplies Plus and La Quinta Inn and Suites. There is a large lot of undeveloped land adjacent to the existing businesses, and Cotton Patch Café and Chicken Express are also located along Christy Plaza.
The discussion leading up to the green lighting of the project was held in executive session, and Hubbard declined the request for additional information on the issue. He did however say additional information on the project will be shared as it progresses, adding that traffic control along the busy stretch of West Washington Street will make the area attractive for future development.
SEDA funding is derived from sales tax within the city limits, but all expenditures of more than $10,000 must be sent to Stephenville City Council for final approval. The council is expected to consider the issue at their December 5 meeting.
The council will also be forwarded a unanimous recommendation to award an economic development grant of about $12,000 to Erath Capital Investments. The funding is for the installation of a city water line extension.
The waterline will reach five existing houses on the south end of Old Hico Road, as well as new commercial location for Fastenal, an existing business that employees fewer than 10 people, according to Hubbard.
Beau Mayo, owner of Erath Capital Investments, said the city at some point extended sewer line to the area, which is inside the city limits and subject to city property taxes, but didn’t install water lines.
“It’s nice to get a little assistance on this project from SEDA,” Mayo told The Flash after the meeting. “I really appreciate them stepping up to help out. I believe it shows SEDA is making a positive step in the right direction, working with businesses to benefit growth and development.”
Mayo is well invested in development in Stephenville. He moved to area during his sophomore year of college to rodeo and started buying and rehabbing properties while still enrolled at Tarleton State University. Erath Capital Investments rehabilitates and sells properties while also owning and managing a number of residential and commercial properties.
“I have purchased and rehabbed about 200 homes beginning with a $500 trailer house when I was in college,” he said. “I take a piece of property and improve it, increasing taxation. But, it’s not only that, the neighbors are happy to no longer have an eyesore next door.”
And the rehab and rental business provides an economic boost as Mayo shops local and works with local subcontractors, bankers, realtors and other professionals.
The total cost of the water line project is expected to be more than $36,000, with SEDA helping with one-third once the council issues the final seal of approval.
Mayo said the project is a “win-win” for everyone involved.
Hubbard agreed, saying the water line extension will also benefit future annexation on the south end of Stephenville.
For Mayo, the project will be a lot more than a water line for his tenants and new home for Fastenal. Phase 2 and 3 of the project will include a 15,000 square foot mini-storage facility and its subsequent expansion.
Meanwhile, an economic development grant request from Twisted J was tabled, again. The request was submitted to SEDA sometime ago to help with the cost of a $61,000, six-head embroidery machine. The business is located outside of the city limits but inside the Stephenville’s extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ).
There was some discussion by the board about the various benefits provided by Twisted J, including the employment of local residents.
“There is a misconception that we give money away,” Hubbard said. “We actually invest in companies and look for a payback.”
The directors also seemed to agree that all offers of support to businesses within the ETJ should be contingent on those businesses entering into a no-fight agreement relating to the possible annexation of their property by the city in the future.
Based on a benefit analysis, Hubbard asked the SEDA board to consider a grant not to exceed $5,000, but Mayor Kenny Weldon, an ex-officio board member, suggested a 10-percent investment was more appropriate. The final details of the agreement are expected to be presented at the board’s next meeting.
While there was plenty of discussion about investing business, Nathan Heller, board treasurer, provided monthly financial reports, saying sales tax receipts for September totaled $44,360, bringing the 2015-16 fiscal year total to more than $480,000. The total receipts were almost $14,500 – about three percent, more – than budgeted for the fiscal year.