BIG LAKE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION
October 2013 - September 2014
BIG LAKE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION October 2013-September 2014 ANNUAL REPORT Big Lake, Texas – Investing in Our Community Prepared by Gloria Baggett, Director
YEAR IN REVIEW
What a difference a year makes! Big Lake has become a burgeoning town at the epicenter of the rapidly expanding West Texas oil and gas production. We are strategically located in the heart of the regional oil and gas exploration area of the Sprayberry/Wolfcamp/Cline formations. Many challenges crop up when oil and gas production ramps up, or explodes, the way it has around Big Lake. Available workforce is quickly depleted, housing costs increase as availability dwindles, infrastructure becomes strained, and that is just the beginning. But with those challenges comes great opportunity. An expanded tax base, business investment such as a new Pilot Flying J and Stripes, and community development with two new hotels (and more on the horizon) all present the potential to expand in ways not previously thought possible.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS & PROJECTS
The Economic Development continues to play a key role in our community’s efforts focused on building a solid foundation for growth and prosperity. The ED has been instrumental in bringing forward programs and projects focused on demonstrating Big Lake as a business-friendly community. Typical barriers to economic growth include financial resources, inadequate housing, being land-locked on three geographical sides by the University of Texas Lands and a heavy dependence on a single industry. Big Lake is working hard to break through these barriers and continues to make progress. Activities of note in this area include: ***
ADVERTISING & PROMOTION PROGRAM ***
In the Fiscal Year of October 2013 through September 2014 the B.L.E.D.C. awarded funds to four businesses for signage, landscaping and/or exterior refurbishing of their business. Under Texas law the B.L.E.D.C. may allocate a maximum ten percent of total revenue per annum for the Advertising & Promotion Program. Those businesses receiving funds this year were: The Big Lake Wildcat Blake’s Auto Parts Barry Matthews NOV/Wilson ***
BUSINESS RETENTION, EXPANSION & RECRUITMENT ***
The Big Lake Economic Development Corporation was formed to administer the sales and use tax approved by the citizens of Big Lake, Texas and collected pursuant to the Development Corporation Act of 1979 for the development, promotion, creation, retention or expansion of business enterprises that create or retain jobs, and for suitable infrastructure necessary to promote or develop business enterprises. These efforts for this year are summarized as follows: C. J.’s Diner (soon to be opened). The BLEDC provided a new business start-up grant of restaurant equipment, for the purpose of creating two additional jobs in Big Lake. City of Big Lake – Industrial Park: The BLEDC has allocated $211,269 for the paving of Josh Mitchell Ave. in the Industrial Park. Last year the BLEDC also allocated $350,000 to the City of Big Lake for infrastructure within the Industrial Park. The Neighborhood Drug Store: For the past one and one-half years the BLEDC has been working towards obtaining a full service pharmacy for the residents of Big Lake. We are proud to announce the BLEDC awarded a new business start-up grant due to open by mid-December. In exchange the pharmacy will provide a full-time pharmacist and additional full-time staff in job creation. Sugar Creek Grill: In July 2013 the Sugar Creek Grill opened in Big Lake bringing high quality cuisine to the area. The BLEDC awarded a new business start-up grant in exchange for the creation of jobs in the local area.
Quality, affordable housing continues to be a complicated challenge for our community. Affordable housing is generally defined as the cost for rental or ownership housing that does not exceed 30% of a family’s income. The real need, however, is for housing rentals for mid-management level workers – many of whom reside outside Big Lake yet derive the majority of the family income from work in Big Lake. It is apparent that affordable housing weighs heavily on the community’s ability to address the workforce challenge. The BLEDC has taken steps to address this important need. Santa Rita Homes developed a 24 unit (1 & 2 bedroom) apartment complex which opened in February 2014. The BLEDC provided a new business start-up grant to begin to address the severe housing shortage in Big Lake. Santa Rita Homes is currently 100% rented with a waiting list. Big Lake Estates: To further address the housing shortage and, the largest grant undertaking of the BLEDC, the BLEDC awarded a total grant of $600,000 not to exceed $200,000 per year for city permitting, building, misc. fees and Ad Valorem Taxes for a maximum of five years or the $600,000 whichever comes first. In return, Big Lake Estates will generate full-time positions for a total of five years. It should be noted this project will be of high quality with anticipated construction costs of $9.5 million. Once completed, and annexed into the city limits, the property taxes alone will bring the City of Big Lake in excess of $216,000 per year at the current tax rate. This means in 3-4 years Big Lake Estates will have returned to the tax payers the initial investment of $600,000. Plus the City of Big Lake will have increased their property tax base by $216,000 annually. Single family homes are by far the most difficult for a community to generate because of the private investment required. Due to the volatility of the oil and drilling business, private investors are hesitant to invest in building single family homes. We have been told, unfortunately, this area is always the last to be addressed. However, the BLEDC will continue to build upon existing partnerships – both local and regional – which have potential for future development.
INDUSTRIAL PARK DEVELOPMENT
The Big Lake economy is, and always will be, heavily dependent on the oil and gas industry. Big Lake is located at the crossroads of one of the largest oil and gas plays in the Western Hemisphere. Oil and gas exploration activities over the past two years have had a major impact on the growth of the city and region. These industry activities have placed both a strain on services and infrastructure, yet provide numerous opportunities for new housing, attraction of retail and industrial services, and a catalyst for job creation. The Industrial Park concept was formed in year 2000 by the Big Lake Economic Development Corporation. In 2005 the park was sold to Delhi Corporation. In the beginning were only two companies. Since 2005 twenty-nine (29) new businesses have set up in the Big Lake Industrial Park. Coming soon, in 2015, will be two additional Industrial Parks. The Wolfcamp Energy Park will be a 135 acre property on the Hickman Ranch Estate, and JAT50 located on Highway 137 towards Ozona. The BLEDC will make every effort to stay in communication with these parks to monitor the continuing new companies coming to the area.
TEEX COMPETITVE ASSESSMENT STUDY
In an effort to create opportunities and face challenges of Big Lake, the BLEDC commissioned a Competitive Assessment Study from the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX). Find below the recommendations submitted by the Knowledge Engineering (KE), the Economic Development, Market Intelligence, and Community Development unit of the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX). This summary was an effort to provide Reagan County and the City of Big Lake a “baseline” for strategic planning and programs, allocating resources and recruiting.
• Update the certified population of Big Lake to include the recent growth of the 2013 Census Bureau of 3,601. Plus an estimated 4,030 ongoing growth in the energy sector. It is estimated Big Lake’s current population at 7,331. This takes in consideration of trailer parks, man camps, hotels/motels, RV parks and Delhi Ranch RV park estimated population.
• Consider modifying the existing form of governance for Big Lake. Moving from a general law to a home rule city allows more flexibility and self-governance via a local charter.
• Develop an annexation plan to incorporate more property within the existing city limits to address growing the local tax base and address the residential shortfall. Expanding the city limit boundaries also expands the city’s ability to provide water service to areas that are currently outside the city limits.
• Develop a “branding” campaign to highlight the strategic location of Big Lake in the center of one of the biggest oil and gas plays in North America. Emphasis should include the expanded airport, new hospital, new hotels, and location of the regional operation of the oil and gas companies.
• Encourage and support RCISD in the implementation of programs to provide welding and related training programs in order to address the local workforce needs.
• Continue to invest in major infrastructure to address current and future needs. Implement an aggressive Capital Improvement Plan to prepare for and capitalize upon development pressures in the region.
• Capitalize upon the regional location of Big Lake and position the city as a regional hub. Infrastructure is key to attracting new businesses. Install a reliever road around the city to reduce congestion, damage to the roads, and assist in defining the larger boundaries to expand the city.
• Explore options to enhance the revitalization of downtown Big Lake.
• Build upon the regular Big Lake EDC and Chamber of Commerce meetings to improve local communications. Host informational “Town Hall” gatherings to highlight special events and projects in the community.
• Continue an active dialog with existing oil and gas companies to identify and encourage attraction of suppliers and services to locate in Big Lake. A complete copy of the Competitive Assessment is available at the office of the BLEDC upon request. ***
MOVING FORWARD IN 2015 ***
The Big Lake Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors is dedicated to improve and raise the quality of life in Big Lake. We are listening to our community of their desires and are working toward that end. We know you want another grocery store, more retail, and restaurants. We ask that our community be patient and realize these come slowly with increased population. As we move into 2015, the BLEDC Action Plan includes a Downtown Revitalization Grant application, develop Retail Attraction and Promote Big Lake with a Market and Branding strategy. The results will undoubtedly provide the roadmap for our continued pursuit of economic sustainability in Big Lake and Reagan County.