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Vitro Expansion Project Recognized by TEDC

John Ingle, Times Record News

When it comes to economic development, there are no guarantees that a specific project will go through.

That was certainly the case when the cities of Wichita Falls and Burkburnett were putting together economic development incentive packages for Vitro Architectural Glass, formerly PPG. Their collective hard work not only landed a $55 million expansion project from the Mexico-based company, but the cities were also named the Texas Economic Development Council’s Community Economic Development Award for communities with a population 100,001 to 250,000.

The Wichita Falls City Council approved a $3 million incentive package developed by the Wichita Falls Economic Development Corp., or 4A board, and the Burkburnett City Commission approved a $300,000 package to be paid over three years from the Burkburnett Development Corp.

 “The Community Economic Development Award program recognizes exceptional contributions of TEDC member cities toward the economic vitality of their communities and the state of Texas through creativity, leadership, and partnership in the achievement of business retention, business recruitment and community improvement,” the TEDC said in a release.

Wichita Falls competed with Frisco, Mesquite and Round Rock for the top honor in their category.

Henry Florsheim, president and CEO of the Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce & Industry, the Vitro project was a local business expansion as well as a recruitment effort that was many years in the making. He said the could have chosen another location in the company to build as state-of-the-art jumbo coater, a machine that puts layers of metal into glass to make energy efficient windows.

 He said they started working on the project when the facility was was still under the PPG banner. A need had existed at the Wichita Falls plant for the new machinery, but PPG wouldn’t pull the trigger on it.

“We stayed engaged with Bill Haley, the plant manager, and so Vitro, when they were doing their due diligence, they knew this as well,” Florsheim said. “As soon as they took over the company, we were already ready. We had already submitted our proposal for support for the project.”

He said it didn’t take long for Vitro to make the decision that the Wichita Falls facility would be the site for the jumbo coater.

Vitro broke ground on the new project in May and should be complete by the end of the year. The plant had been limited to producing sheets of glass of 12-feet tall, but the new machine will create larger pieces, which is what designers and builders want.

“This is an exceptional testament for why companies should bring their businesses to Wichita Falls and Burkburnett and why this is a great place to do business,” Haley said. “The infrastructure is very good, the labor force is excellent for producing high quality products in a safe and efficient manner, and you can’t beat the support that the city and county leadership provide.”

WPT Receives SHARP Award From U.S. Department of Labor

Wichita Falls, Texas – September 7, 2017: WPT Power Corporation, a mechanical power transmission manufacturer, announced today that it has been awarded the distinguished Safety & Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) award. The United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recognizes small business employers who implement and continuously improve effective safety and health management systems at their work site. Acceptance of a company’s work site into SHARP from OSHA is a significant achievement. This certification is only held by forty-three companies of the approximate 400,000 small businesses in Texas.

“I am proud of all our employees who earned this recognition and for all of their efforts to achieve OSHA SHARP status.”, said Lane Brock, President of WPT Power. “This is an important distinction for WPT. Workplace safety is very important in today’s competitive environment.”

“Accomplishing this recognition and the work that goes into having a safe, efficient workplace has numerous benefits.”, said Greg Patterson, General Manager. “It protects workers and boosts morale as well as reduces costs on lower worker compensation insurance premiums, improves worker retention, and reduces the time employees are away from work.”

To qualify for SHARP, companies must undergo a comprehensive audit, correct all hazards identified during an onsite health and safety consultation, demonstrate that effective safety and health programs are in place and maintain injury rates below the industry average for the last year of completed data. In addition to recognizing the company for having a highly effective safety and health program, acceptance into SHARP also grants exemption from routine OSHA inspection that can be renewed every year.

For more information on the Safety & Health Achievement Recognition Program, visit www.osha.gov/dcsp/smallbusiness/sharp.html

About WPT Power
Founded in 1992 WPT® Power Corporation is a diverse manufacturer of industrial clutches, brakes, power take-offs, hydraulic pump drives and winch products, providing solutions to assist our customers in effectively managing their equipment worldwide. This includes pneumatic, hydraulic, mechanical and spring set controlled power transmission products for the energy, forestry, marine, agriculture, steel processing, mining, dynamometers, paper and converting, and off highway.

Quarter 2, 2017 Cost of Living Index Release

COST OF LIVING INDEX QUARTERLY UPDATE

Among the 253 urban areas that participated in the second quarter 2017 Cost of Living Index, the after-tax cost for a professional/managerial standard of living ranged from more than twice the national average in New York (Manhattan) NY to more than 20 percent below the national average in McAllen, TX. The Cost of Living Index is published quarterly by C2ER – The Council for Community and Economic Research.

The Ten Most and Least Expensive Urban Areas
in the Cost of Living Index (COLI)
Second Quarter 2017
National Average for 253 Urban Areas = 100
 Most Expensive  Least Expensive
Ranking Urban Areas COL Index Ranking Urban Areas COL Index
1 New York (Manhattan) NY 235.0 1 McAllen TX 76.0
2 San Francisco CA 192.3 2 Conway AR 77.8
3 Honolulu HI 186.0 3 Harlingen TX 78.5
4 New York (Brooklyn) NY 180.2 4 Richmond IN 78.7
5 Washington DC 153.4 5 Tupelo MS 79.2
6 Orange County CA 152.4 6 Kalamazoo MI 80.5
7 Oakland CA 150.4 7 Wichita Falls TX 80.5
8 San Diego CA 146.9 8 Knoxville TN 82.2
9 Seattle WA 146.9 9 Martinsville-Henry County VA 82.4
10 Hilo HI 146.8 10 Memphis TN 82.8

The Cost of Living Index measures regional differences in the cost of consumer goods and services, excluding taxes and non-consumer expenditures, for professional and managerial households in the top income quintile. It is based on more than 90,000 prices covering almost 60 different items for which prices are collected three times a year by chambers of commerce, economic development organizations or university applied economic centers in each participating urban area. Small differences in the index numbers should not be interpreted as significant.

The composite index is based on six components: housing, utilities, grocery items, transportation, health care, and miscellaneous goods and services.

Download the Full Press Release Here

Chantex Gets Approved

A local Wichita Falls company kept its promise to bring new jobs to the area and they are now seeking another expansion.

The Wichita Falls City Council approved $168,750 Tuesday for Chantex Manufacturing Inc. to put toward their $711,000 project.

The project was approved by the 4A Wichita Falls Economic Development Corp. last week. The funds will go toward purchase of equipment needed in their expansion of the fabrication and assembly of closure head to highly pressurize vessels for natural gas.

In December 2016, Chantex, a third-generation family owned business, was approved for funds to expand into a 7,500-square-feet building to manufacture these highly pressurized vessels. The $128,000 forgivable loan was used for the purchase of two 20-ton cranes. At the time, Chantex employed 12 people and promised up to 16 jobs total after expansion.

With business running even better than expected, Chantex bumped their numbers to 28 and to date employ 42 people. Additional employees with prime jobs means additional dollars that could be spent locally, pointed out Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce & Industry retention specialist Travis Haggard.

 The additional 7,500-square-feet building will be where closure heads to the pressure vessels will be built. The WFEDC funds will go toward five 20-ton cranes and bridge assemblies ($87,000); two 80,000-pound cargo trailers ($35,750); one I-beam ($16,000); and cost of running additional electrical power ($30,000).

Haggard noted at 12 employees, Chantex had an economic impact of about $2 million for the area, at it was $7 million with 42 employees. With this new expansion, Chantex expects to employee an additional 20 people, making Chantex’s impact $10.4 million.

Josh and Ray Roberts, brothers whose family have owned Chantex for many years, said they are proud of their business and the equipment they make that is used in the transportation and filtration of natural gas. Unlike drilling or the supply end, piping the product is a steady business, they said. The Roberts brothers said they were grateful for the support from the city and hope to continue to grow and work with the city for years to come.

For each year that Chantex maintains 60 employees (their current numbers plus 20 additional jobs), this recent loan will be forgiven at a rate of 14.29 percent each year for seven years. At the end of the loan period, Chantex will own the equipment outright.

Given the company’s past track record of meeting and exceeding expectations for business growth and creation of new jobs, council said it was a clear and easy decision to continue to support this thriving local business.

Claire Kowalick, Times Record News