The Vernon Business Development Corporation offered an economic incentive package to a local manufacturer in hopes of bring more jobs to the community.
Ricky Rater, owner of Pearson Livestock Equipment, met with BDC board of directors on Wednesday, May 20, saying his business was looking to become more efficient in its operations to remain competitive. He said an upgrade of the company’s manufacturing facility was needed for them to add new product manufacturing here; those products are currently manufactured at the company’s Nebraska facility.
Director Lisa Herber asked if the company needed more space. Rater said no, that they needed to use the space more wisely. He said every employee was having to spend several hours a week on a forklift, moving items around in order to reach work spaces. He said it was hurting efficiency.
BDC attorney Don Ross Malone asked if Rater was seeking BDC assistance to improve efficiency or to increase the number of employees. Rater said both. He said that parts they use are manufactured outside of Vernon. By making the upgrades, it will allow the parts to be made in Vernon, resulting in an increase in jobs.
“I’m here to see if you want to help with that. I know it will create more jobs,” Rater said.
Pearson is one of the big successes for the BDC. The company came to Vernon in 2016 with BDC assistance and a requirement to bring 10 jobs to Vernon by 2022. The company had 8 employees by the end of 2016, 11 when it purchased property at 122 Wilbarger in December 2017 and currently has 15 employees.
Rater said the company believes in contribution to the community and has not sought a property tax abatement.
The board of directors held a closed deliberation for about 45 minutes to discuss the Pearson request. After the closed session, the directors, on a motion from director Grady Stowe, unanimously voted to offer Pearson a grant of $132,500 – essentially half of what they needed for the expansion. Director Herber said for the grant, the BDC expects Pearson to retain the current employee level and add five new local employees over a five-year period.
Malone said that if the company fails to meet the employee requirement, than a portion of the funds will have to be returned at 20 percent per employee, unless the BDC deems there were extenuating circumstances.
Director Terry Spears made a motion that the company receive have half the funds up front and then the rest when the BDC receives invoices from Pearson. It was unanimously approved.
In other action, the board approved the financial report for March and April.
In his report, managing consultant Rick Hardcastle said that he expects Texas A&M to request a project support next month. He said the local office had received funding for a peanut sheller. They are going to ask for assistance with infrastructure and it will involve adding jobs locally.