Kilgore on track to surpass development goals, council approves Wagner abatement

Jun 15, 2019
• By LUCAS STROUGH-Kilgore News Herald

Kilgore is on track to grow and develop its business community at a greater rate than previous years, according to a mid-year report from Kilgore Economic Development Corporation. KEDC Assistant Director Jana Russell presented the report to Kilgore City Council at their Tuesday meeting.

“The purpose of a mid-year report is threefold. One, we look at our progress so far this year compared to year-end metrics. Two, we look at our program of work to see if there are any adjustments that need to be made and, finally, we give ourselves a financial health checkup,” Russell told the council.

By comparing KEDC’s progress in 2019 so far with their goals for the end of the year and with averages from previous years, the report indicated Kilgore is ahead of schedule in terms of attracting new businesses to the area and retaining current investments.

Russell said KEDC signed agreements with five primary employers by March 2019.

“The projections that those five agreements make in terms of jobs – they expect to create 36 new ones, retain 438 for a total of 474 jobs under contract.”

Russell added those agreements also included anticipated investments of almost $12.5 million and one retention project, aimed at keeping employees and investments in the area, expected to retain $3 million.

“If you go back and look at the number of jobs, 474 under contract, and you compare that to year-end three and five-year averages, it already exceeds that number,” Russell said.

“If you look at the amount of investment, those five contracts put us on track to meet year-end investment.”

Additionally, KEDC has signed four more agreements since the end of March when the initial figures were tallied, putting Kilgore on track to surpass three and five-year averages in terms of local employer investments and jobs.

“It is twice the number of agreements we typically sign in a year,” Russell said.

The addition of more agreements was the reason the KEDC report was given in June instead of April, she said.

“What that means is we have already had a very good year in terms of growth in Kilgore.”

Russell said the mid-year report also contained information on how the KEDC team is making Kilgore more attractive to companies looking for a new location and how they have been allocating funding.

The report indicated KEDC was meeting and exceeding its goals, she said.

“We’re a productive steward of finances, proactive in our teamwork, our program of work is progressive and, finally, I think the results are pretty impressive. Already, we’ve had a very good year for growth in Kilgore.

Tuesday’s meeting also included a presentation by Russell on tax abatement incentives for Wagner Tuning LLC, a German manufacturer of high-performance car parts which chose Synergy Park as the site of its new US-based distribution and manufacturing center in May.

Russell told the council the KEDC board of directors met June 4 to unanimously recommend the council’s approval on a 10-year, 50 percent personal property and real property improvement tax abatement for Wagner Tuning.

The abatement agreement will “facilitate new construction and investment on Lot 7B at Synergy Park,” Russell said.

Ordinance No. 1742 designated Wagner’s development site as a reinvestment zone.

“The area reasonably will be likely, as a result of this reinvestment zone designation, to contribute to the creation, retention and expansion of primary employment and to attract major investment in the zone that would be a benefit to the property and would contribute to the economic development of the city of Kilgore,” Russell said.

Resolution No. 19-12, also presented by Russell, would authorize the tax abatement agreement between Wagner Tuning and the city.

“The abatement for this project will enhance Kilgore as a destination for both domestic and foreign investments,” she said.

The council voted to approve both the ordinance and the resolution.