As part of its 2017-2018 program for work, the Sherman Economic Development Corp. laid out a number of goals to the Sherman City Council Monday for its next fiscal year. Those goals include retaining and expanding existing employers, recruiting new employers, supporting workforce development and employment programs, marketing SEDCO real estate, raising Sherman’s profile and continuing economic impact reports.

“We had over 300 site visits in the last fiscal year,” SEDCO President John Plotnik said. “Three years ago, we were lucky to have one site visit in three to four months. That tells us we need to continue to be proactive with our private and public leadership because it’s happening and we just need to control it. We need to respond to these projects and create the best looking jobs in our area.”

Plotnik went over SEDCO’s goals for the coming fiscal year during a joint meeting of his organization’s board and the council that saw the latter unanimously approve SEDCO’s budget and program for work for the new fiscal year.

Stacey Jones, SEDCO vice president of business retention and expansion, detailed the budget for the council and highlighted the increase to the retention/expansion program’s budget, which is more than doubling from $66,650 for the current fiscal year to $134,600 for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.

She explained the new budget reflects planned increases in marketing efforts, scholarships and grant opportunities. Plotnik explained one of those marketing efforts will see SEDCO advertising available jobs in other cities.

“On Oct. 1, we’re meeting with all of our human resources people for our primary employers,” Plotnik said. “We’re going to ask them ‘What skill sets are you looking at hiring over the next two years?’ At the same time, we’re doing research to identify the top 10 cities in the United States with the highest unemployment rate.”

He said SEDCO will then advertise the available local jobs in those cities, explaining a need for labor is something his staff consistently hears about from local employers.

“I’ve said this before, five years ago people were saying where are you going to find jobs for my folks, now it’s where are you going to find folks for my jobs,” Plotnik said. “This is how we’re going to capture some of those folks to understand Sherman, which is close to Dallas, has jobs available.”

Jones also noted the budgets for SEDCO programs such as communications and land maintenance will see increases in the coming fiscal year.

“We need to ensure consistent phone and internet connection and so we changed our phone system and added redundancy,” Jones said of the $2,600 increase to the SEDCO communications budget. “We had a few issues with that this year, so this is our way to handle that.”

She explained the $14,327 increase to the land maintenance budget — to $38,540 — will cover increased mowing and water usage when SEDCO purchases additional property. Earlier this month, the SEDCO board approved the purchase of 64 acres just west of the Panda Power plant on the city’s southside and Plotnik said the corporation wants to continue to expand Progress Park in the future.

The SEDCO budget has total administrative, operating and program expenses of $1,104,467 and currently has $1,535,175 in incentive payouts scheduled for the new fiscal year.

“That’s always an ever-changing process, but that’s what we budgeted for,” Jones said of the incentive payments. “Overall, our total expenses are $5.3 million with a net income loss of under $1.6 million, which is the difference between revenue that came in and what we’re going to spend. But we’ll have a projected ending balance of (over) $7 million, which leaves us plenty to work with for those exciting projects when they come in.”

After the budget was approved, SEDCO board Chairman Greg Kirkpatrick thanked the corporation’s staff members and said he was optimistic about the coming fiscal year.

“The council and the public doesn’t see what goes on on a daily basis, but I can assure you there are countless projects that are being worked on at any given time,” Kirkpatrick said. “I’m pretty amazed at some of the stuff you all get accomplished. I think we’ve got several nice projects that may come to fruition here in the next fiscal year.”