The Kilgore Economic Development Corporation announced a record-setting amount of local business investments in a recent report covering fiscal year 2022, which saw more than $100 million of new investment now under contract.
The report paints a picture of Kilgore on the rebound from several years of economic slowdowns, which included the departure of longtime local employer Halliburton in 2020.
KEDC Executive Director Lisa Denton discussed the report at a recent council meeting and said the pandemic’s effects are lingering but the road ahead looks very bright.
“We saw continued issues from the global pandemic as well as supply chain issues which effected deal closures across the board. The other impact we had this last year was the departure of longtime staff,” Denton said.
“We only had two projects last year; however, we still saw project announcements that exceeded three and five-year averages and even set a record. Retained investment of those contracts was $34,884,000. New investment was a historical high since the organization’s inception at $82,448,432 for a total of $117,372,432 under contract.”
The contracts are also anticipated to create 226 new local jobs, another record.
Denton paused as Mayor Ronnie Spradlin and city staff applauded the news.
The year-end report covers fiscal year 2022, spanning Oct. 1, 2021 through September 30, 2022.
According to the report, two companies signed economic development agreements in fiscal year 2022, one being an attraction contract and the other an expansion contract.
In December 2021, KEDC negotiated an agreement with Camfil USA to make Kilgore the site of a planned $45 million facility which will create at least 124 new local jobs.
Following Denton’s presentation at the council meeting, council voted unanimously to approve a planned expansion by local boat manufacturer Skeeter Boats, which will see the company expand into the former Halliburton yard.
Several other business developments marked 2022 as a year of economic turnaround following the stagnation brought by the pandemic: Kilgore College and Christus Health breaking ground on a new state-of-the-art medical and education facility and custom auto parts manufacturer Wagner Tuning officially opening their doors after a lengthy delay caused in part by the pandemic.
The report also detailed compliance reviews for all 13 companies with which KEDC has standing Economic Development Performance Agreements. All 13 were found to be in compliance, and some had outperformed expectations in terms of local investment and jobs created.
“On those contracts, we ended up with $25 million more than projected in capital investments and 73 more full-time jobs than what was projected in those contracts,” Denton said of this group, which includes Ana-Lab, Southern Plastics, Orgill and others.
KEDC also negotiates for some companies to receive tax abatements from the city, encouraging those companies to invest, expand and hire locally. Denton said this group also outperformed expectations, investing $27.9 million more than initially projected and hiring 174 more people than projected.
“This is the goal,” Denton said.
“We always tell those companies to be conservative. We don’t want them to over-promise and under-deliver. We always have the goal of meeting and exceeding those goals, but I think $28 million is a very nice number.”