The Denison Development Alliance’s final regular meeting of the year was highlighted by optimism for the city’s economic development in 2014.

The Denison Development Alliance’s final regular meeting of the year was highlighted by optimism for the city’s economic development in 2014.

Tony Kaai, DDA’s president, delivered a report to the DDA Board on the alliance’s ongoing efforts to redevelop the JM Manufacturing site near the intersection of U.S. Highway 75 and U.S.Highway 69.

Kaai said after more than a decade of working to redevelop the site, a favorable arrangement for the property owner and the city would be within the alliance’s reach.

He brought a motion before the Board to hire a consultant to help DDA assess its options with the defunct industrial site.

Kaai said, "We’ve got to push hard, get somebody on board that can explain to (the property owner) and us what can and can’t be done."

Kaai said he had 13 years of experience trying to help find a buyer for the property. According to Kaai, the site once manufactured a concrete pipe product that contained 14 percent asbestos.

Kaai said that the pipe products manufactured there posed no safety risk, but the owner of the property has expressed concern about the possible costs of redeveloping the site.

After some discussion, the Board unanimously approved the motion to hire Kaai’s suggested contractor.

Kaai’s monthly staff report to the Board detailed some of the alliance’s projects to encourage business and industry to locate or expand in the city. Kaai showed the Board a set of prefabricated architectural plans. The president said, "We call this a ‘virtual shell building,’ but it’s not a shell, because we actually have plans for a full building. This is a set of plans that, if we were dealing with an industry and you were needing a 100,000-square-foot building, and I gave you these plans and you said, ‘this is exactly what I want, I don’t need to change anything,’ we could basically have these stamped and to the city and be under construction in three weeks versus a six-month period."

Kaai said that scenario was unlikely, since most businesses would want to make some changes to the building to suit their specific needs. Kaai said the template plans would still significantly shorten the time from such a factory’s conception to completion.

The Board and staff expressed optimism about ongoing projects and new possibilities around the city, including the city’s burgeoning wine industry.

Chairman Robert Brady said, "we have 25 winery/vineyards in this region, it’s a huge wine region, so we’re trying to figure out ways to draw people in and let them know about it."

"There are a lot of people outside the county that know it’s there, because (this region) provides up to 70 percent of the winemakers in the state of Texas," he continued.

The Alliance also approved an updated policy and procedure manual. Kaai said the new manual was a "more or less word-for-word" copy of the city of Denison’s policy and procedure manual.

DDA Vice President Loretta Rhoden told the Board members, "Our old policy and procedure manual didn’t have stuff for social media, computer use, and those kind of things."

After a short executive session on personnel matters, the Board re-convened in an open session to approve Kaai and Rhoden’s employment contracts.