By AMANDA KIMBLE
STEPHENVILLE (January 16, 2017) – Stephenville Economic Development Authority (SEDA) will hold its first meeting of 2017 on Thursday at 11:30 a.m. in the City Hall training room.
The agenda lists a number of ongoing discussions, including a report from Interim City Administrator Wayne McKethan related to the need for a public events center in the area.
SEDA and city officials, as well as representatives of Tarleton State University, Stephenville ISD, Erath County and Stephenville Economic Development Foundation (STEDCO), recently sought public input on and support for pursing more information – funding opportunities, location and more – on an events center.
At the January 10 forum, a number of community members backed the idea, saying the issue had been a topic of discussion for about 30 years and that a public events center could help facilitate economic development, growth and other needed improvements across the county. The other side – needed infrastructure improvements that should take priority – was also addressed.
Other items of business include: SEDA board of directors will consider a number of potential investments Thursday, including the possible expenditure of up to $5,000 to support “Stephenville Day” at the state capitol; a request from the city of Stephenville for almost $16,000 for landscaping and maintenance of designated commercial streets; and a $25,000 economic development grant to assist Equibrand with infrastructure improvements.
SEDA Executive Director John Hubbard said Stephenville Day in at the state capitol will put community leaders and area stakeholders in direct contact with elected officials and agencies to discuss water, sewer, transportation and other needs and see what options are available to the city.
Hubbard said the landscaping and maintenance request from the city is in line with SEDA’s mission of attracting new businesses and jobs to the area through the improvement of quality of life and community. The improvements to commercial streets will paint a positive image of the city to business leaders looking for a new place to set up shop, Hubbard said.
Meanwhile, he said Equibrand has requested $25,000 to assist with costs related to above ground water storage, and Hubbard believes board approval of the investment will offer payback in about four years, citing the fiscal impact of the 50-55 jobs and payroll expenses, $4 million facility and business personal property.
The Stephenville Chamber of Commerce recently estimated $1.5 million in new equipment, about $1.2 million in inventory and annual payroll of about $1.8 million will accompany the relocation project.
Previously, Erath County approved a tax abatement incentive for Equibrand and STEDCO approved a $25,000 grant to facilitate the relocation of the rope manufacturing plant from Hood County to the local area.
For the benefit of existing businesses, the board will consider approval of the Façade Improvement Program, which will offer fund-matching grants to assist with certain exterior improvements. Hubbard expects the program to be approved Thursday and said applications for funding will be available at SEDA office following approval.
Read the September SEDA report at TheFlashToday.com for more information on the Façade Improvement Program.
Finally, the board is expected to elect officers, consider amendments to the authority’s bylaws and meet in executive session to discuss issues related to two businesses that could one day relocate to the area.