The U.S. Economic Development Administration has awarded $1 million to the City of Plainview and Hale County to make water infrastructure improvements to the new regional business park adjacent to the former Jimmy Dean Meat Co. facility.
The grant was announced Thursday morning in Washington, D.C. by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and in Plainview by U.S. EDA Regional Director Jorge Ayala.
“The Obama Administration is committed to ensuring that our communities and regions have the critical infrastructure they need to support business and jobs,” said Secretary Pritzker in Washington. “This EDA investment will allow for the expansion of Plainview’s business park, which will diversity the local economy by providing resources that support small business development in the region.”
“EDA is pleased to be able to invest again in the Plainview community’s continuing plans to expand economic opportunity in the area,” Ayala said to local officials and business leaders in Wayland’s McClung Center. “The city, county, business sector and higher education have demonstrated an impressive collaboration in responding to the loos of a major employer. The resiliency and dedication of this community is a tribute to the local leadership which continues to move this community forward. This business park will contribute to Plainview’s continued progress in establishing itself as a great place to live and do business in the South Plains.”
The city and Hale County hope to break ground this summer on the business park, west of the former Jimmy Dean Meat Co. plant on I-27, and north of Texas Highway 194 (Dimmitt Highway). The project to develop the business park infrastructure is expected to take about nine months to complete, according to Assistant City Manager Andrew Freeman.
Pritzker said EDA’s investment will support the engineering and construction of water and wastewater lines to serve the community-owned business park that will eventually build out to approximately 100 acres. The business park represents a major investment by both the City of Plainview and Hale County to continue their joint efforts to diversify the local economy. The project represents a continuation of a regional effort to diversify the local economy.
“The City of Plainview is excited to be partnering with Hale County, Plainview/Hale County EDC and the EDA to construct the new business park,” commented Plainview Mayor Wendell Dunlap. “This business park has been an idea for a long time, and now all the pieces of the puzzle have come together to make it happen. It truly takes a group effort in a community our size to take on this project, and we can’t thank our partners enough for their support.”
The business park will feature roads, water lines and sewer lines in order to create tracts of land that are considered shovel ready so that any major employers interested in building can start construction right away with limited lead time required. The City of Plainview and Hale County will be 50/50 partners when it comes to construction and on-going maintenance expenses for the park. A joint board will also be appointed to provide direction and guidance on the layout, construction and future needs.
“Hale County is pleased to be partnering with the City of Plainview on this project, which will be a major recruitment tool for our area,” said Hale County Judge Bill Coleman. “This joint business park shows how strongly we support the cities in our county, and we will look forward to seeing which businesses our Plainview/Hale County EDC is able to recruit to town in the near future. It’s great to be able to pool resources with the U.S. EDA, city and county in order to build a long-lasting investment for our region.”
City Manager Jeffrey Snyder believes the business park will be a game changer for the City of Plainview and Hale County, giving the community shovel ready land that has been missing when trying to recruit major employers to the area. “We always hear that having a business park is something every major employer relocating will look for when considering your city.” Snyder says. “We are very thankful for the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s financial commitment to our community to help make this project a reality. We had a great team work on this application between the city, county, South Plains Association of Governments, and the Plainview/Hale County EDC. This strong partnership will help ensure that our business park is a success.”
Joining city, county and Plainview/Hale County EDC representatives in Plainview for Thursday’s grant announcement were Brent Oden and Jaci Glover, regional and deputy regional directors for U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, Jay Ibarra and Mary Whistler representing U.S. Rep. Randy Neugebauer, South Plains Association of Governments officials, Plainview Chamber of Commerce and Plainview ISD leaders, South Plains College-Plainview officials, and High Ground of Texas Executive Director Kevin Carter.
Ayala said the U.S. EDA grants are highly competitive. “Not everyone responds to such devastating events as the closure of the community’s largest employer as you did, such as collaborating and working together.” He said that strong unity is one of the deciding factors in the grant selection process.
“The entire community came together, realizing how much stronger you can be when working together than staying apart. We are here to help communities respond when facing these issues and work to help create jobs for you. It was obvious that you would move forward with this industrial park project, with or without our assistance, which is a strong indication of its future success.”
Under the Economic Development Assistance Project program, the EDA solicits applications from applicants in rural and urban areas to provide investments that support construction, non-construction, technical assistance, and revolving loan fund projects under EDA’s Public Works and EAA programs. Grants and cooperative agreements made under these programs are designed to leverage existing regional assets and support the implementation of economic development strategies that advance new ideas and creative approaches to advance economic prosperity in distressed communities. EDA provides strategic investments on a competitive- merit-basis to support economic development, foster job creation, and attract private investment in economically distressed areas of the United States.