After hearing about pending growth for years, Grayson County residents saw the arrival of a lot economic development related to growth arrive in 2018.
Sherman and Denison in particular had a number of new industries and companies arrive in town, and saw several existing corporate citizens announce plans to expand locally.
“This has been the most growth oriented period we’ve had with record low unemployment, record high tax income and new property tax income,” Denison Development Alliance President Tony Kaai said, referring to the Texoma region. “Everything is about breaking records right now.”
The Sherman Economic Development Corp. started 2018 the same way it ended 2017, working with Finisar Corp., which announced plans to create 500 new high-skill jobs in Sherman after buying the bought the former MEMC building. The Denison Development Alliance’s most prominent projects of 2018 were work on HeyDay Entertainment and Urban Air’s new entertainment venues in Gateway Village. The two locations are expected to serve as the major anchors for development in the retail segment of the development.
SEDCO also saw the announcement of planned local expansions by GlobiTech Inc., Emerson, Tyson Foods and more.
“We have to have every one of those deals to make our economy continue to be successful,” SEDCO Executive Vice President Stacey Jones said. “Helping our companies grow here and stay here is a very important part of the work that we do because we want them, and their corporate headquarters, to be very pleased with Sherman as a location and want to continue to expand what they have here.”
Gateway Village developments
Two of the biggest economic developments in 2018 for the city of Denison were a pair of new entertainment complexes in Denison’s Gateway Village development at the intersection of FM 691 and U.S. Highway 75. The two developments are slated to be the primary anchors for The Shops at Gateway Village — a commercial and retail area within the greater Gateway Village Development.
“This puts a piece of quality of life development in the air that has never been here,” Kaai said.
HeyDay Entertainment became the first of the two anchors when it announced plans to build its first Texas location in late 2017, with construction currently ongoing. The DDA approved a $250,000 incentive agreement with the developers of Gateway Village for site improvements for the site.
Construction on the site began in 2018, but was slowed by heavy rains and a wet fall that delayed the raising of the walls at the site until early December. Representatives for HeyDay hope to have the location open to the public this summer.
The second anchor for the development was revealed in November when Urban Air announced plans to build an indoor trampoline park adjacent to HeyDay. The DDA also supported this project project with a $200,000 incentive package for site preparations and improvements. Kaai said this incentive was similar to that given for the HeyDay project.
Finisar announced in December 2017 of last year it would hire 500 new employees to expand its production of VCSELs at its new Sherman facility this year to help meet Apple’s demand for the technology in its iPhone line of products.
After approving a $1 million incentive agreement with Finisar in March, the SEDCO board of directors restructured the payment schedule for the incentive agreement with the electronic components manufacturer in October. The agreement will allow the corporation to provide Finisar four payments of $250,000 each over a two-year period as the company invests $160 million in capital equipment and construction in its Sherman facility.
The SEDCO board of directors approved a $1.9 million incentive for silicon-epitaxy manufacturer GlobiTech in July, should it move forward with a $47.5 million expansion of its local facility. Then in October, GlobiTech confirmed it was delaying the expansion, despite having already secured tax abatement agreements from Grayson County and the city of Sherman in addition to SEDCO.
“GlobiTech received HQ approval for the Fab 3 project but has determined that we now need to take a more cautious approach on initiating the project in light of the recent U.S.-China trade/tariff situation,” GlobiTech Inc. President Mark England said in a written statement at the time. “Nevertheless, in this interim period, GlobiTech continues to move forward by completing our air permit requirements and finalizing our Fab 3 designs to be able to restart in earnest upon seeing positive market and political signs.”
Jones said the delay isn’t expected to change anything about the planned GlobiTech expansion other than the start date.
DDA approved an $80,000 incentive agreement in late October with Swagit Productions, which plans to open a support and backup location locally to its operations in Dallas. The tech business focuses on providing hands-free video streaming services to cities counties and municipalities across the country.
The company announced plans to convert and renovate a 10,000-square-foot facility on FM 84 into its new backup location and hire a staff of 10-40 employees for the location. The $80,000 incentive is based on the job creation generated by the development, with the DDA prepared to pay Swagit 1.69 percent of its base taxable payroll for the next five years. If successful, the development could see $4.73 million in payroll during this period.
Kaai said the development has been delayed somewhat due to construction costs surrounding the renovation. Despite the delay, Kaai said he was not concerned with the future of the project, noting that Swagit has signed a five-year lease on the property.
SEDCO approved a performance agreement with a $1.5 million incentive in November for an expansion by Tyson Foods that would increase the capacity of the Sherman beef and pork products production facility’s material handling department. SEDCO staff said Tyson was planning to invest $30 million in building and equipment on an 80,000-square-foot expansion of its local facility, but Derek Burleson, from external communications with Tyson, sent a statement explaining the company hasn’t approved the expansion yet.
“We are exploring a potential upgrade of our material handling facility at our Sherman, Texas, case ready plant as part of our strategic plan to maintain efficiency and better support the plant’s production capabilities,” Burleson said via email. “We appreciate the Sherman Economic Development Corp.’s collaboration on the proposed expansion.”
Jones said Tyson gave an estimated start date for the expansion of mid-January and expects it to be completed by September 2020.
DDA also approved another incentive based on job creation in 2018 when it approved a $400,000 agreement with ACS Manufacturing in February. The incentive came just one year after the Denison-based manufacturer announced plans to hire 70 new employees and increase its workforce to 420.
“We have a standard policy that for our existing industries we do the same incentives that we do for the businesses we recruit,” DDA President Tony Kaai said in February. “If our industries go to make an effort to add jobs, and quality jobs, then we offer the same incentives we offer a new incoming business.”
Under the terms of the agreement, the DDA would offer ACS a quarterly cash payment of 8.2 percent of the increased base taxable payroll for a total of up to $400,000 over five years. This is based on plans to hire an additional 100 employees with an estimated payroll increase of $4.86 million.
Developments at NTRA
The development seen in 2018 was not limited to Sherman and Denison and bore fruit for much of the region, including North Texas Regional Airport — Perrin Field. The past year saw plans for a new airline and an aviation company focused on refitting helicopters for VIP and Emergency Medical Service uses.
AMS Heli officially announced it was relocating from Grand Prairie to NTRA is February during a meeting of the Grayson County Regional Mobility Authority. AMS General Manager Jim Smisek said the year saw the completion of four projects at NTRA, including two outfitting projects and the development of a neonatal medical transport system. Going into 2019, Smisek said the company expects to pursue international contracts that will likely be announced in early 2019.
The second development at the airport came in mid-December when Judah 1 announced plans to begin operations at NTRA as the first Christian-based airline in the world. Representatives with the airline said Judah 1 would focus primarily on serving missionaries who are travelling abroad for aid and mission work.
Unlike other providers, founder Everett Aaron said Judah 1 would allow missionaries to travel on the same aircraft as the medical and other supplies that will be used on the aid trip. Aaron estimated that it could take about six months to complete paperwork and registration with the Federal Aviation Administration as a scheduled airline.