Pamlico Air provides tour to Wichita Falls officials

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Wichitans are finally seeing the old Stanley Tools building put to good use after Pamlico Air opened their doors in Wichita Falls a few months ago.

On Tuesday, city and county officials and others were able to get a tour of the new 180,000 square foot facility.

Pamlico Air CEO Travis Stephenson said this plant will be one of two anchors for the company, even as they expand with more facilities.

“This is where the most volume will be, where the most equipment, the most people,” Pamlico Air CFO Scott Lampe said.

After sitting vacant more than a decade, the old Stanley Tools building is now home to over 100 new jobs in Wichita Falls.

“Sitting up there and you think nobody is every going to want it, for them to come in and purchase it, redo it, drop millions of dollars in it, then automatically start producing product and hire 100 employees, 100 citizens is pretty neat,” Wichita Falls Mayor Stephen Santellana said.

The new company that manufactures air filters and air filtration products and equipment are ready to be in the falls for the long run and the city economy will benefit from new businesses like Pamlico Air.

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“We’ve made a pretty big bed with our investment here with the city,” Stephenson said. “For this to be one of our anchor spots that we may even reach a little bit farther than we normally would.”

“This is not just oil and gas manufacturing or aerospace manufacturing, which those two were our bread and butter for 50 years, air filters it’s a different industry, industrial hemp it’s a different industry, and so as one struggles, another one comes up,” Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Henry Florsheim said.

The first few months in town could not have been better, with Stephenson saying all the help from the city and county sped up the process by six months.

Plant manager Michael Parsons moved to Wichita Falls in January in preparation for the opening and couldn’t be more thankful for the response so far.

“We really lucked out in hiring because we’ve got our floor crew and they went from not being able to build anything to being able to build like champions,” Parsons said. “So, I’m really proud of them, I’m proud of the community for standing behind us and getting it started.”

Pamlico Air plans to add more machines soon that would result in double the jobs for the city.

And none of this could have been possible without the group of local investors who owned the old Stanley Tools building donating the facility to the city’s 4-A board.

Wichita Falls tops list for lowest cost of living

Claire Kowalick | Times Record News | 5.21.20

Among the great things about living in Wichita Falls, the city took the top spot in a list of 25 United States cities with the lowest cost of living.

A study by Niche, a company gathers information about places to live, released in March, shows the North Texas city with just over 104,000 residents enjoys low rent prices and affordable housing.

About 57 percent of Wichita Falls residents own a house and 43 percent rent their homes.

The median home value in the city is $97,400 and the median rent price was $784.

The national median home value is $184,700 and national median rent is $949.

Many other Texas cities made the list including Brownsville at number two, Beaumont was third, Amarillo was fourth, McAllen was sixth and Abilene was seventh.

Many cities on the list were in the Midwest and South. Largest coastal cities such as New York and San Francisco have notoriously high rent prices and higher cost of living.

For the study, researchers took into account several factors including the median tax rates, and costs of food, gas and housing.

While cost of living does not always equal quality of life, Wichita Falls did well with an overall “A-” rating from Niche.

The city earned an A for commute time, diversity, nightlife and cost of living. It got a B for public schools, housing, “good for families,” jobs and weather. Wichita Falls lowest grades were C’s for crime and safety, outdoor activities and health and fitness.They called Wichita Falls one of the best places to live in Texas, offering a suburban feel with plenty of open space. Many people own their homes, they praised the number of parks and said the public schools were above average.

A poll by Niche about the city asked what phrase best described Wichita Falls residents. The top responses were “nice,” “very friendly and sociable,” and “family oriented.” 

See the full list of cities at: https://www.niche.com/places-to-live/search/cities-with-the-lowest-cost-of-living/.

Claire Kowalick, a senior journalist for the Times Record News, covers local government, military and MSU Texas. If you have a news tip, contact Claire at ckowalick@gannett.com.

Midwestern State University mechanical engineering students tour manufacturing facilities

Lauren Roberts, Wichita Falls Times Record News

Mechanical engineering students spent their Saturday touring three manufacturing facilities around Wichita Falls.

The Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce sponsored the tours to Pratt & Whitney, Arconic, and Kalco.

“The students have the opportunity to go through these tours to see exactly what these facilities are up to, the types of jobs they do, the types of jobs they offer. And also getting that inside look at the staff that’s on hand,” Taylor Davis, director of the Wichita Falls Talent Partnership, said.

She said the tour could lead to potential internships and job opportunities. Some of the students brought along their resumes to hand out to staff at the faculties.

“We have seen a need in our community to connect our educators, employers and students/community members,” Davis said.

Mechanical engineering senior Luuk Teurlinx said it was good to see what was actually inside a company like Pratt & Whitney.

“You see on the internet what they’re doing but you don’t see how they’re doing it and what goes on in the factory,” Teurlinx said. “Definitely interesting to see and it’s good to see.”

Teurlinx said he is trying to figure out what he’s going to do after graduating and this tour can help him narrow it down.

Ijuani Stephenson liked seeing the way parts were tracked as they entered and left the facilities and how it related to the customers.

“Overall it was a very visual and hands on process of everything,” Stephenson said.

She said there has been stagnant population in Wichita Falls with the only growth in the 55-plus age group.

“Trying to retain the talent that we have at MSU as well as our homegrown talent here that was born here and raised here is really important to us,” she said.

With the success of the MSU industry tours the chamber is considering branching out and doing more tours with other majors and schools. 

“We are talking to Vernon College to see what it might look like for their business majors,” Davis said.

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Progress: New initiatives at MSU Texas enhance the value of students’ degrees

Dr. Suzanne Shipley, Midwestern State University

When families think about where to attend college, cost is always one of the first factors weighed. 

Alongside cost, however, families need to research the quality of the degree. It is the equation of cost plus quality that can determine the value of the degree. And the value of the degree is what most benefits a graduate.

While keeping costs steady at MSU we are working hard to increase our value in a number of ways. I hope that you find these details meaningful, whether you are a proud graduate of MSU, a family member of a graduate, or considering attendance at our university. 

Academic Endeavors

The much-anticipated opening of Centennial Hall, home to programs in our Gunn College of Health Sciences and Human Services, began 2019 on a high note. The $42 million project was part of the $58.4 million in tuition revenue bond funds appropriated by the state in 2015, and marked the largest designation of capital construction funds in the history of the University.

This project was instrumental in forging new alliances with Shimadzu Medical Systems USA and B-Line Medical LLC, as well as renewing our longstanding local partnership with United Regional. The Shimadzu School of Radiologic Sciences at MSU Texas is the first corporate and public educational partnership of its type in radiological sciences.

Through these alliances, our students and faculty will work and train with state-of-the-art equipment and software that will set them apart in their fields. The building now stands as confirmation of the trust and support our state has placed in us to provide an educated workforce and stimulate economic development across our region and beyond.

Expansion to select doctoral programs has emerged as a new interest of MSU Texas graduates. We are now pursuing approval for not one, but two, doctoral programs. Programs in radiologic sciences and educational leadership would be the first for our university, and the doctoral program in radiologic science would the first of its kind in the United States.

Alongside this change for our graduate endeavors are our undergraduate signature minors to respond to student interests and workforce needs in fields such as cybersecurity, educational design and learning management, musical theater, and organizational psychology to name a few. Such advancements help us stay true to the value we know students receive from our liberal arts foundations; strides in our professional degrees show the quality of this important combination.

Affordability is imperative for our MSU families and no program does more to make a degree available to first-generation students than our Priddy Scholars Program. Middle-income families across the region have benefited from this freedom from the cost of higher education given to our students.

Priddy Scholars do not have to divide their time and attention between the workplace and the classroom, instead single-mindedly pursuing studies, participating in campus events, preparing for leadership and service roles in the community, engaging in international study, and selecting a career. Priddy Scholars stay enrolled at MSU Texas, with 90 percent completing their degrees without interruption. What we are learning from this program is helping us to design programming to help all students be successful and keep all MSU Texas degrees affordable.

Most sectors gave Wichita Falls economy a favorable 2019

Dr. James Owen, Midwestern State University

Local economic activity during December allowed our trade area to conclude 2019 with a favorable performance record in most sectors.  Employment statistics have been mostly upbeat for the entire year including the December estimates. 

The energy sector continues to search for stability, although oil prices seem to be on an uptrend over the past few months.

Local job numbers seem to have improved in an orderly, but not spectacular, fashion during 2019.  Since the beginning of the year, local job numbers have increased by nearly 500 or 0.7 percent. 

An impressive aspect of this estimate is that it has exhibited a mostly steady and sustained record.  With some interesting prospects as we begin 2020, we may see continued improvement. Our unemployment rate for December continues at 2.9 percent, which is a record or at least near-record low compared to the past several years.

The local construction sector has exhibited some challenges during the year but concluded with an improvement in the number of new home permits issued.  The 90 new permits issued during 2019 is 20 percent higher compared to those issued during 2018. 

Potentially we will see this number of new permits approach the 100 level during 2020.  Past years that have been quite favorable in an economic performance context, new home permits issued have typically exceeded 100 per year.

Comparisons between 2018 and 2019 with respect to the estimated dollar value for all building permits issued have been sort of challenging.  During 2018, there seem to have been a rather high dollar estimate while the estimate for permits issued during 2019 are nearly nine percent lower. 

For the 2019 calendar year, total tax receipts accruing to Wichita Falls are higher by 3.7 percent.

While local economic performance has been favorable during 2019, the Wichita Falls Economic Index for December remains at 107.9, constant with the months since August.  

Presuming the record for 2019 continues into 2020, we may enjoy an index improvement as we work through the first quarter. 

Read the full article at Times Record News.