Representatives from agencies receiving money through the Wichita Falls Economic Development Corporation lined up at City Hall Thursday to make their case for further funding. The EDC, informally known as the 4A Board, makes recommendations to the city council on how to use a portion of the city’s sales tax revenue for economic development projects.
The representatives, some with Power Point presentations, explained what their agencies have achieved in the past year and what they are hoping for next year. The board of directors granted all requests.
- The Sheppard Military Affairs Committee, whose job it is to protect and promote missions at the air base, was approved for $ 286,420 in the upcoming budget cycle, slightly less than its allocation for 2021.
- Downtown Wichita Falls, whose mission is to promote downtown development, was approved for $ 106,500.
- The ideaWF program at Midwestern State University received up to $ 300,000. The program provides training and grants to aspiring entrepreneurs.
- The Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce, which acts as the city’s agency for promoting the city and attracting new industries, received a significant boost from $ 1,099,830 to $ 1,148,759. Chamber President Henry Florsheim said the additional money would be used for expenses related to staffing, marketing, updating online sites, adding an internship platform, and printing moving guides.
In other areas, the board has postponed some of the obligations of Eagle Railcar, a company that was incentivized in exchange for hiring workers. Layoffs necessary during the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the company from meeting hiring deadlines.
The board revised the wording of a program to incentivize employees moving to Wichita Falls from out of town and approved the award of $ 930,795 to Blackrock Construction for water and wastewater improvements in the Wichita Falls Business Park.
One of the board’s agenda items was an incentive agreement with Panda Biotech, a company that claims to be building a large hemp processing facility here. Panda has taken out a $ 1 million loan to promise to hire at least 50 employees. The issue was discussed in a closed instead of an open meeting and no action was taken.