JEDCO making Jacksonville successful through growth
Editor’s Note: This is the second installment in a three-part series on plans the city of Jacksonville is implementing or has proposed to continue the improvement of the city, its services and its economy.
Jacksonville’s economic growth and expansion is championed by Jacksonville Economic Development Corporation (JEDCO), an entity created in 1995 and which is led by a seven-member board appointed by the city council. JEDCO is supported by 0.5 percent, or a half-cent, of the total city sales tax.
The vision of JEDCO states, “Jacksonville will be the East Texas community of choice to invest, work, learn and thrive,” a concept made possible through its mission “to advance economic development in Jacksonville through the attraction and retention of businesses, thereby enhancing quality of life.”
The goals of JEDCO, as outlined in a recent JEDCO-sponsored business breakfast, include nurturing existing businesses, attracting new businesses, championing the community, fostering the workforce, beautifying Jacksonville and planning for the future.
“JEDCO is solely tasked with helping the economy in Jacksonville grow and the number one priority of that mission is to help who is already here, to help the businesses that are already in Jacksonville and have invested in Jacksonville to continue to be successful and to grow,” stated JEDCO President James Hubbard. “We feel that if our existing businesses are successful and well taken care of, that will set the stage for bringing in new business and new investment into Jacksonville.”
Care of existing companies includes JEDCO staff regularly contacting businesses through scheduled site visits, lunch meetings and information evens. At the recent JEDCO business breakfast Hubbard explained many of the projects and involvements of JEDCO throughout the year as well as those that are ongoing.
As recently as this month, JEDCO provided financial assistance to STS Electronic Recycling for improvements such as the roof, loading dock and interior renovation to the location at 301 S. Bolton Street. In return, the company will provide a capital investment of $1.5 million and 20 or more new jobs.
It was also announced at the breakfast that JEDCO had just received a grant through Texas Workforce Commission which will allow them to purchase approximately $40,000 worth of equipment to begin training of first-line supervisor of production and operating workers. The training will be provided by Tyler Junior College.
JEDCO also extends its reach regionally by participating in events such as the Northeast Texas Economic Developers Roundtable, a professional network representing 23 counties, and UT-Tyler programs such as the career success conference and their 100 Communities Initiative.
In order to reach an even wider audience, JEDCO has launched a new website and logo, issues quarterly electronic newsletters, sends press releases and has created a social media presence. The logo, which changed from Expanding Tomorrow’s Horizons to Building Success, Texas Sized, now clarifies the location of JEDCO as being in Texas.
Actively working to attract new businesses to Jacksonville, representatives of JEDCO are sent to industry and trade shows and they follow up on leads provided by existing businesses. One of the newer businesses to Jacksonville is Zyklus Heat Transfer/LU-VE. The company received approximately 25 acres of land in Norman Industrial Park and a two-year lease from JEDCO as well as a six-year property tax relief package from the city. Efforts by JEDCO and the city resulted in the company’s decision to expand into Jacksonville with a $10 million capital investment and approximately 50 new jobs to be added to the local workforce.
“We are anxiously awaiting that project to break ground and we feel strongly that having LU-VE and Zyklus here in town will attract additional suppliers and vendors that support those operations because that will be a very large facility,” Hubbard explained.
In a current project, JEDCO is working with Alta Power to bring a power plant to Jacksonville. Although the plant would only employ two or three people once it is operational, there will be a $60 million initial investment by Alta. The land option and purchase agreement along with air permit, water and sewer service agreement and other contracts have been completed. Financing, which had been delayed, is now expected to be completed no later than March 2020.
To make the city more aesthetically attractive, JEDCO participates in two programs, Operation Facelift’s Façade and Demolition Programs. The Façade Program provides up to $5,000 for eligible projects costs. To date, 68 such projects have been completed with a total value of those projects amounting to $977,104 worth of improvements. The Demolition Project provides up to $10,000 for eligible project costs and its primary goal is to prepare land for redevelopment. Six demolition projects have been completed, with 29 additional prospects identified.
Additionally, JEDCO has funded the construction of a new restroom and concession facility at the soccer complex. It is hoped the new accommodations will attract tournaments to Jacksonville, which will, in turn, give a boost to the local economy.
“We feel that there is going to be a lot of redevelopment opportunities along US 69, so we feel that there will be a lot of legacy buildings that developers start to target for redevelopment projects whether for new restaurants or strip centers,” Hubbard explained when asked about future planning. “That trend has been going on for a while now with McDonald’s reinvesting, Whataburger, Burger King coming, Wendy’s tearing down a legacy building and constructing. We think that trend is going to continue.”
Having an online presence, a physical presence at regional events and working with the city and chamber to support current businesses and bring new companies to Jacksonville, JEDCO continues to work for the economic development of Jacksonville.
“JEDCO’s current relationship with the city is very strong,” Hubbard declared. “I feel that we’re all pulling in the same direction, the city council and the JEDCO board. I feel like they’re effectively communicating. Our board should be very proud of what they’ve been able to accomplish, really since 1995. I think within the last several years, we’re really trying to change the tide here in Jacksonville, convey a positive message to the region and just make sure people know Jacksonville is a good place to do business and to live.”
The board of directors are Darrell Dement, chairman; Nathan Jones, vice chairman; Lana Cook, treasurer; and directors Robert Cudd, Robert Haberle, Chad Devillier and Matt Rowe. The staff includes James Hubbard, president, and Sherri McDonald, economic development assistant.
The JEDCO office is located at 309 E. Commerce and can be reached at (903) 586-2012 or email@example.com.
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