News and Events
  • Wednesday, January 31, 2018
    EDF celebrates work expansion with Tech Center Annex

    The groundbreaking and creation of a new Workforce building for Blinn College was also the highlight of a rather busy year for Brenham’s Economic Development Foundation.

    Page Michel, EDF president, said the groundbreaking for the $1.3 million building on Jan. 12 was “Awesome.”

    “It also represents a lot of work the EDF team, board, staff and also our partners at the Hodde Tech Center, Blinn College a lot of work on that project,” she said.

    The center was dedicated Sept. 14, and is owned by the EDF.

    The EDF worked to get sponsors for the Workforce Training Center Expansion for new equipment for the students to use. There is new technology and flex space for training and other classes such as electrician and carpentry. Michel said these programs will help meet the demands of construction in the area.

    “Our EDF staff participate in an advisory committee for the Hodde Technical Education Center and we are continuously checking on the workforce training needs of local employers, making sure that the training programs offered at the Tech Center meet local needs,” said Michel. “Definitely to meet the demands of construction trades in the region, more people need to get trained in those trades to meet the demands of the both commercial and residential housing builders.”

    In 2017, they conducted their biennial Business Retention and Expansion Survey.

    “In February we were having a lot of in person meetings. We do this pretty much every two to three years. We have in-person meetings with all of our primary employers. Then we compile the results, the responses to a survey form which has about 30 questions on it measuring workforce and property needs and logistics and then we compile that into a report and identify any challenges or opportunities for growth and expansion,” said Michel.

    The Brenham EDF also met every other month with the Brenham Alliance. This is composed of three members of the board of the Brenham Community Development Corporation, three members of the city council and the five EDF board officers. Michel said they stay in touch and keep communication going because all are stakeholders in the economic development process in Brenham.

    The EDF along with the Washington County Chamber of Commerce were also on hand to celebrate the groundbreaking of what will become the new RELLIS campus in College Station.

    “We were very excited to attend the groundbreaking of the RELLIS campus in Bryan with our Blinn College colleagues,” said Michel.

    The RELLIS groundbreaking made way for more ribbon cuttings for grand openings of expansions and buildings in Brenham. Some of these include the expansion of Citizens State Bank, The Doyle Coatney Athletic Complex at Blinn College, and the Baylor Scott & White Rehabilitation Clinic.

    Michel said the EDF, along with the Small Business Development Center, completed the purchase of industrial land to help expand Industrial Park.

    “We expanded the southwest industrial park to now have a section four and we began working on marketing of that 45 acre rectangle off of FM 389,” she said.

    The city and BCDC held meetings about increasing requests from a shopping center developer about possibly building in the city.

    “There is definitely some growth in the retail industry on the horizon for Brenham,” said Michel.

    She said the EDF staff went through training and in May published the 2016-17 BRE report.

    In the summer each year the EDF held compliance review committees with representatives with the city and county to make sure that all of the projects that received tax abatements were successful in meeting their obligations as part of the agreement.

    There were some changes this year that were not growth in Brenham. Clint Kolby left the staff after seven years of service at the EDF to pursue his law degree. “The EDF board wish him the best,” said Michel.

    They hired Candi Eaton to replace him.

    “I’m really excited about joining the EDF and being directly involved in the community. I see a very bright future for Brenham,” she said. “I’m glad to be here to help Brenham grow and prosper.”

    Michel agreed. “We were excited to find Candi Eaton for the position because she has a great background that includes both industrial technology, real estate and she is from this neck of the woods,” she said.

    While there was a lot of growth, there were also setbacks. One of these came at the hand of Hurricane Harvey, which hit the town at the end of August.

    “In 2017 we had a lot of optimism for some new projects that would build in our industrial park, but by the end of the calendar year the wheels stopped turning and those projects halted,” said Michel. “Unfortunately for people in the greater Houston area, Hurricane Harvey did massive destruction to a lot of industrial properties.”

    Even then, the storm benefitted the city. “We did get more than one new company that relocated to our city as a result (of the storm),” she added.

    The board went to a state conference for the Texas Economic Development Council, and received an award for their grant searching for the expansion of the Tech Center.

    “At the state conference of the Texas Economic Development Council in October, the Brenham EDF was recognized with an award for the community project. Applying for the grant and expanding the workforce training center, bringing together all of the partners from the city and county, Blinn College, Bluebonnet Electric, Brenham EDF, local banks and other corporate investors all pulled together to make that a reality,” said Michel.

    The board elected two new members. They are Melissa McCune with the Brenham Clinic and Jimmy Lawhorn, general sales manager with Blue Bell Creameries. Two members retired — Steve Miller and Roger Atkins.

    Other projects the EDF look forward to include the renovation of the Bode and Tonn building for Moser Media to be headed by Jim Moser.