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BUSINESS

imageseasttexas.com TM TM

EAST TEXAS

Fired Up on Fuel Oil remains important while natural gas interest heats up

Meat of the Matter Food processing industry keeps local economy bullish

Zoned In Trade T ra ade designation lures lur res foreign industry

SPONSORED BY EAST TEXAS COUNC COUNCIL CIL OF GOVERNMENTS | 2009


All Roads Lead to Henderson ‌ Henderson boasts that all roads lead to Henderson where you will find the red carpet of hospitality. Henderson is a Texas Main Street city; located in historic Rusk County. A city "on the grow" with a stable economy. Come check us out!

Land Available Now! (will trade property for jobs)

Job Incentives Tax Abatements (both city and county)

Major Industries ‌ Boral Brick CAPCO Contractors, CAPCO Fabricators and CAPCO Supply Fiberglass Specialties Inc. Galyean Equipment Company Luminant Mansfield Plumbing/Swirlway Mustang Drilling Panel Truss Texas Inc. Sadler's Bar-B-Que Sales Tenaska Inc. West Fraser Lumber Mill William Grant Tank and Vessel Inc.

903.657.9146 www.hendersontx.us

Contact: Sue Henderson


contents BUSINESS TM

16

OVERVIEW

11

BUSINESS ALMANAC

12

BUSINESS CLIMATE

Success Across All Sectors

16

Communitie capitalize on energy Communities growth to diversify their economies.

20

Growing g Strong g

19

HEALTH

Center of Care

24

20

Tyler hospitals’ treatment, research efforts rival big-city p providers.

Left to Their Own n Devices

21

Senior Matters

21

EDUCATION

Good Advice

22

Small-business center classes, training leave imprint on East Texas economy.

Job Ready

23

A Prescription for Partnership

23

TR ANSPORTATION

30

Zoned In

24

Region’s foreign-trade foreign-trad designations offer advantages to lluring industry.

Rapid Transit

25

LIVABILITY

Golden Opportunity

26

State program helps East Texas communities draw retiree residents.

Up on Main Street

29

ENERGY

Fired Up on Fuel

30

Oil is still important in East Texas, but natural gas is a hot fuel.

Growth Streak

31

On the Cover STAFF PHOTO Caddo Lake in Jefferson, Texas

EAST TEXAS

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contents MANUFACTURING

35

Made in East Texas

32

Region’s business clim climate, transportation network boost manufacturing manu operations.

Making the Inves Investment

33

FOOD & AGRICULT AGRICULTURE

The Meat of the Matter

34

The East Texas economy beefs up on the food-processing industry.

32

Grape Stuff

35

RECREATION

The Reel Deal

36

Fisheries center is stocked with plenty of family entertainment.

A Fine Kettle of Fish

39

ARTS & CULTURE

Picking Up Steam

40

The not-so-little engines of the Texas State Railroad get new life.

36

Living History

43

ECONOMIC PROFILE

44

This magazine is printed entirely or in part on recycled paper containing 10% post-consumer waste.

PLEASE RECYCLE THIS MAGAZINE

43 EAST TEXAS

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5


Why Van, Texas?

What do you want? Top-rated schools No state income tax Safe and secure Hometown values Business friendly

Let’s talk. You won’t believe what Van has to offer! Contact: i˜˜Ê7ˆˆ>“ÃÊUʙäΰnÎä°äx{ÓÊUÊ}܈ˆ>“ÃJÛ>˜i`V°œÀ} 6>˜Ê Vœ˜œ“ˆVÊ iÛiœ«“i˜ÌÊ œÕ˜VˆÊqÊÜÜÜ°Û>˜i`V°œÀ} 6>˜ÊÀi>Ê …>“LiÀʜvÊ œ““iÀViÊqÊÜÜÜ°Û>˜ÌiÝ>ðVœ“

On I-20/Off I-80 Commuting distance to Dallas or Shreveport Entrepreneurial friendly Infrastructure provided Potential tax incentives Quality workforce


contents LIFESTYLE | WORKSTYLE | DIGGING DEEPER | VIDEO | LINK TO US | ADVERTISE | CONTACT US | SITE MAP

BUSINESS TM

ONLINE E AST T E XAS

CONNECTIONS

An online resource at IMAGESEASTTEXAS.com

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Since 1983, the East Texas Regional Development Company has provided small businesses in Texas with the financing they need to expand or even start their business.

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Read Business Images East Texas on your computer, zoom in on the articles and link to advertiser Web sites. NEWS AND NOTES >>

Get the Inside Scoop on the latest developments in East Texas from our editors and business insiders

Workstyle A spotlight on innovative companies that call East Texas home

SUCCESS BREEDS SUCCESS >>

Meet the people setting the pace for East Texas business DIG DEEPER >>

Log into the community with links to local Web sites and

The East Texas Regional Development Company or ETRDC is a private, nonprofit organization formed for the purpose of assisting small businesses. The ETRDC has helped many Texas business owners achieve long-term, fixed-rate financing for all of their business needs.

resources to give you the big picture of East Texas DATA CENTRAL >>

A by-the-numbers look at doing business and living in East Texas GUIDE TO SERVICES >>

See the Video Our award-winning photographers give you a virtual peek inside East Texas

To learn more about how the ETRDC can help your business with its financing needs, please call or see our Web site.

(903) 984-8641

Links to a cross section of goods and services in East Texas

E-mail: info@etrdc.com

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EAST TEXAS

Save Money. Smell the Flowers.

Looking for ways to save money on gas and help the environment? The EPA wants to share some smart driving tips that could give you more miles per gallon of gas and reduce air pollution. Tips like making sure your tires are properly inďŹ&#x201A;ated and replacing your air ďŹ lter regularly. And where possible, accelerate and brake slowly. Be aware of your speed ... did you know that for every 5 miles you go over 65 mph, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re spending about 20 cents more per gallon of gas? If youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re shopping for a new car, choose the cleanest, most efďŹ cient vehicle that meets your needs. If we each adopt just one of these tips, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d get more miles for our money and it would be a little easier to smell the ďŹ&#x201A;owers. For more tips and to compare cleaner, more efďŹ cient vehicles, visit

www.epa.gov/greenvehicles.

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overview

TOP 10 REASONS TO DO BUSINESS IN EAST TEXAS 1. Location

6. Favorable Tax Climate

Centrally located within the United States, East Texas is accessible by air, rail and road.

The State Business Tax Climate Index ranked Texas as having the sixth-best business tax environment in the nation. Local officials work hard to create favorable tax incentives for business.

2. A Thriving and Diversified Collection of Industries

7. Hospitality

Manufacturing, energy, health care and distribution enterprises have all found East Texas to be fertile ground for their growing businesses.

City, county and economic development officials actively work together to address the needs of relocating businesses.

3. Low Cost of Living Housing prices are among the lowest in the nation, making it an attractive location for relocating families, which find they can get a lot more in return for their housing dollars.

8. Mobility

4. Scenic Beauty

East Texas has an abundant supply of recreational activities, from boating and fishing to museums and festivals to retail shopping and small-town antique adventures.

East Texas enjoys easy access to major highways, rail lines and airports, making it a natural distribution hub.

9. Recreation

Nowhere else in Texas will you find the combination of rolling hills, Piney Woods, and vast, clear lakes that comprise the largely undeveloped East Texas landscape.

10. An Ideal Climate

5. A Skilled and Adaptable Workforce

The climate is consistently mild, with more than 245 days of sunshine.

The region offers top-notch education and workforce training institutes.

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SEE VIDEO ONLINE | Take a virtual tour of East Texas at imageseasttexas.com, courtesy of our award-winning photographers.

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business almanac

MANY TISKETS AND TASKETS Everything is a basket case at The Texas Basket Co. Since 1919, the company has been manufacturing wooden baskets at its same location in Jacksonville. The product line includes fruit and vegetable baskets, crates, display racks and other handmade baskets – even one shaped like the state of Texas. An observation room allows visitors to watch baskets being made. Finished products are shipped to all 50 states. Several clients are also in foreign countries, including Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan and Mexico. Go to www.texasbasket.com for more information.

LOOK UP, WAY UP Balloons aren’t just for kids.

THE SINGING COWBOY Tex Ritter was a well-known country music star who was born in Murvaul in Panola County. He lived from 1905-1972, and today the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame/Tex Ritter Museum is located in the Hawthorne-Clabaugh-Patterson House in Carthage. The museum opened in 1993 in honor of Ritter, but expanded in 2002 to include friends of his as well as other Texas-born country music legends.

NASA operates the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Anderson County, and balloons on site measure as large as 300 feet in diameter. The facility in Palestine periodically launches the unmanned balloons to conduct studies of the upper atmosphere and outer space. The Physical Science Lab of New Mexico State University manages the CSBF, and visitors are invited to tour the base. Research balloons for scientific experiments can reach heights of 120,000 feet. Learn more about the facility at www.csbf.nasa.gov.

In 2004, it expanded to add a Jim Reeves display that includes radio equipment from Reeves’ radio station, KGRI in Henderson. By the way, Tex Ritter was the father of actor John Ritter of Three’s Company television fame.

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EAST TEXAS


THE GOOD OL’ DAYS For a glimpse into days of old, head to Pittsburg in Camp County. The Northeast Texas Rural Heritage Center features two interesting museums. The Depot Museum, housed in an old Pittsburg Depot building purchased from the Southern Pacific Railroad, features an array of railroading antiques and artifacts. Items on display include the Ezekiel Airship – a plane built in 1902 that might have been flown before the Wright brothers did so in 1903. The Farmstead Museum features re-enactors who entertain visitors by demonstrating family life in the early 20th century. On site at the Farmstead is a 100-year-old farmhouse, smokehouse, blacksmith shop and general store. Go to www.pittsburgtxmuseum.com for more on the museums.

FLIGHTS OF FANCY Here’s a salute to Marshall Airport in Harrison County. The airport is home to a number of planes that flew proudly during World War II, and several exhibits showcase some of the men who flew in that era. Vintage aircraft on display include rebuilt 1939 and 1943 biplanes as well as a replica of a German glider/trainer. Marshall Airport also serves as headquarters for the Lone Star Wing of the Commemorative Air Force, and a large meeting room was added in 2001 for the 30 Wing members to gather on occasion.

EAST TEXAS

SEE YOU AT THE FAIRPARK The world’s largest two-day team roping rodeo event was held in Henderson County. It was 1999 when Henderson County Fairpark hosted the rodeo extravaganza in which more than 5,200 teams participated. The Fairpark opened in 1969 and occupies 68 acres, with amenities including two covered arenas, an outdoor arena, three barns and a multi-purpose building. The facility is three miles east of downtown Athens and attracts 90,000 visitors each year. Henderson County Fairpark is equipped with 84 RV hookups and 300 animal stalls. Go to www.hendersoncounty fairpark.com to learn more.

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business almanac

IT MADE TYLER GREAT The railroad industry helped make Tyler a major economic hub in the early and mid-1900s, and its depot still exists today. The Cotton Belt Depot was built in 1905 and is now a National Historic Landmark. The depot helped Tyler become a transportation link where agricultural raw materials could be shipped to markets all over the country. Those products included peaches, potatoes and tomatoes that were transported to cities such as Denver, Milwaukee, Omaha and St. Louis. By 1924, the railroad industry accounted for 1,300 jobs in Tyler, generating a payroll of $2 million. Today, the old depot is open for tours and attracts thousands of railroad enthusiasts every year.

EARN, BABY, EARN Slow economy? That really isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t the case in the Longview Metropolitan Statistical Area. The region that covers Gregg, Rusk and Upshur counties remained strong during much of 2008, especially when it came to creating new jobs. For example, the Longview area had the stateâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s highest percentage job-growth rate in June 2008, according to the Texas Workforce Commission. Longview is one of the two major hub cities in the East Texas region, with Tyler being the other. Longview is also ideal for commerce because it is conveniently located on the grid of Interstate 20 and U.S. Highways 80 and 259.

EAST TEXAS

MUSEUM MUSINGS The African American experience in East Texas is honored at the A.C. McMillan African American Museum in Rains County. The building in Emory has a number of exhibits and artifacts that detail the stories of the Reconstruction era in Texas, as well as Negro League baseball and Buffalo soldiers. The museum also includes a number of vintage U.S. postage stamps as well as a display of the Rosenwald Schools in the South. In fact, the museum is now in the midst of a fund-raising campaign to ultimately preserve and restore a vacated Rosenwald School building in the community. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday-Saturday. Admission is free. Call (903) 474-0083 for more information.

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STAFF PHOTO

business climate

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EAST TEXAS


Success Across All Sectors East Texas creates an inviting environment for business investment and expansion

E

ast Texas is enjoying the results of years of growing local economies, not only in the hot energy market, but also in such evergreen industries as manufacturing, transportation and tourism. Low tax rates, a strong workforce, quality schools from kindergarten through college and a year-round temperate climate also fuel that diversification. “It certainly does help that the oil industry is really hot right now,” says David Cleveland, executive director of the East Texas Council of Governments. “That’s a key component of the economy here, but it goes well beyond that factor. East Texas offers a highly skilled workforce, great locations and natural amenities. We are the best-kept secret in Texas.” East Texas is home of a number of success stories, from precision manufacturer Merritt Tool Co. in Kilgore to food products company Homemade Gourmet in Canton to Powell Plant Farms, a provider of plant products to national retailers that generates some $50 million in annual revenue. The Palestine Economic Development Corp. is overseeing plenty of retail growth as well as ongoing expansion in other industry sectors, says Brian Malone, executive director. One new hotel has just been finished and two more are under way, part of a surge in commercial property development. Warehousing-distribution and health-care related projects are also on the uptick. Malone credits the area’s active energy business as an

underlying factor in the growth, but adds that the new activity is designed to stand on its own. Clyde Smith, director of the City of Emory Development Corp., says the city also is seeing a surge in activity, from a multiyear restoration of its historic courthouse to the opening of new stores and restaurants. Locally operated Hooten’s Hardware has expanded into a 55,000-square-foot manufacturing facility for its wholesale and retail operations. A multimillion-dollar bond initiative will fund new schools and upgrades to existing facilities. And with an eye toward markets ranging from product distribution to medical research and development, Emory also is plugging its location halfway between Interstates 20 and 30. “We’re well situated for a lot of different industries,” Smith says. “We’ve got a business park that’s about half full, with more buildings planned, and a new industrial park that we’re developing on 31 acres on the city’s south side.” That kind of business-friendly approach, tied into an awareness of quality-of-life issues, is what makes East Texas a draw for both business and residents, says the Council of Governments’ Cleveland. “We have a trend of constant and consistent growth in this region, and that’s going to continue as our industries become even more diverse,” he says. “Even when oil has slowed down in recent years, the area has continued to thrive.” – Joe Morris

East Texas is home to a number of entrepreneurial success stories, such as Homemade Gourmet, a company based in Canton that offers a variety of prepackaged recipes to make meals prepared at home simpler and quicker.

EAST TEXAS

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business climate

Growing Strong Energy growth helps region diversify, build up other sectors

O

il is an economic mainstay in East Texas, and natural-gas exploration and other newenergy initiatives are fueling growth in retail, restaurant and lodging facilities. “The commercial sector is alive and well in Tyler,” says Tom Mullins, president and chief executive of the Tyler Economic Development Council Inc. and Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce. “Even our residential sector is still strong. We’re going to set a record again this year in terms of the number and value of building permits we’re issuing, and our retail sales figures have set records every year for the past five or six years.” In Longview, the local economy continues to outpace the nation’s and the influx of people and new business continues at a steady rate, says Kelly Hall, Longview Partnership president. Hall says the area’s continued prominence as a retiree destination

has meant a growth in health care and other service sectors. “Retirees strengthen demand, and hence employment, in the health services, housing and consumer industries, and their relatively stable flows of income help insulate the metro area during economic downturns,” she says. Even if the energy sector slows, other industries will provide a cushion for local economies, something that didn’t happen in the past, notes Mullins.

“We have a very diverse economy now, and our hotel sector is particularly strong,” he says. “We have five or six new hotels either under construction or about to start in Tyler, and those rooms will contribute to the restaurant and retail growth. Most of those rooms will be taken by business travelers and the rest by visitors and conventions, so we’ll be getting stronger in those areas as well.” – Joe Morris

“Retirees strengthen demand, and hence employment, in the health services, housing and consumer industries.”

A surge in the East Texas energy business is fueling construction activity in the housing, hospitality and retail sectors. PHOTO BY TODD BENNETT

EAST TEXAS

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health

Care Center of

Tyler hospitals’ treatment, research efforts rival big-city providers

T

hree high-quality medical centers in Tyler are focusing on cutting-edge treatment and research while adding specialties to meet the needs of East Texas residents. The 200-bed University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler offers 30 areas of specialty care and has focused attention on cutting-edge treatment to those suffering from pulmonary diseases. Part of this effort is interventional pulmonology, which uses nonsurgical procedures to diagnose and treat lesions inside the lung. The center is one of just a handful of medical centers in the country offering these advanced procedures, said center President Dr. Kirk Calhoun. Similarly, scientists are developing therapies that target and kill cancer cells. They’re developing molecules that bind to “death receptors” on the surface of cancer cells and force them to die. Thanks to $12 million in annual research spending, scientists are leading investigations into lung disease, cancer, tuberculosis and diabetes. Through this work, the center has seen its NIH funding increase sevenfold in a decade. Tyler also offers specialty hospitals that focus on areas such as rehabilitation, behavioral health, and spine and joint treatment.

The 392-bed Trinity Mother Frances Hospitals and Clinics adopted a new stereotactic radiosurgery system this summer and started using a new cardiac resynchronization defibrillator. The hospital, a Level II trauma center, employs a da Vinci robotic surgery system and offers some threedozen medical specialties. The 454-bed East Texas Medical Center’s admissions grew 19 percent in the past decade, leading the system to add neurology, rehabilitation, cancer, orthopedics and behavioral health as regional service lines. The hospital has begun a $21 million expansion to add two stories to its north tower. Once the addition of 72 rooms is completed in early 2010, it should ease congestion in the hospital’s Level I Trauma Center and allow it to accept patients from its regional network of hospitals and physicians, says CEO and President Elmer Ellis. ETMC has operated on a regional service strategy since the mid-1970s. Patients from outside the county accounted for half its patient days, prompting a referral relationship with other providers that in the past viewed Tyler as a competitor. Today, hospitals in 14 communities are tied into the referral network. – Roy Moore

East Texas Medical Center in Tyler has embarked on a $21 million expansion program.

20

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PHOTO BY JEFF ADKINS

EAST TEXAS


Senior Matters Left to Their Own Devices EAST TEXAS OFFERS INFRASTRUCTURE TO HELP BIOMEDICAL COMPANIES BLOSSOM East Texas was partially built on the oil derrick, but the medical device lab may become the face of the area’s economic future. Thanks to local efforts, the infrastructure to support a burgeoning biomedical industry has been built and should aid the next generation of company founders. At the heart of these efforts is the Biotech Manufacturing Center of Texas in Athens. Started in 2003, the center can serve nearly every need of a growing medical device outfit, including office space, medical extrusions, injection molding, vacuum forming, pad printing and machine shop work. Another company operating across the street can handle sterilization needs. With these assets, BMC has become a business accelerator, helping to grow fledgling companies, with the idea that they will grow and produce jobs for the region, says Samuel Austin, BMC executive director. The sector offers significant growth opportunities, especially around minimally invasive devices and nanotechnology. In Athens, three companies are tenants of BMC’s 45,000-square-foot center. Officials want to house several small companies in hopes that a few will blossom into major players.

“Texas is becoming a biotechnical state, and that’s what we want to be part of.” A center success story is Pharma-Pen Inc., which developed a disposable product for patients to give themselves injection therapy in a sterile environment. Based on its technology and growth at the center, Pharma-Pen was acquired in 2007 by West Pharmaceutical Services. Also in Athens, Argon Medical Devices has developed single-use pressure-monitoring devices for use in cardiology, radiology and critical care. Argon has benefited from private equity investments that allowed it to acquire another company and its technology. And the next generation is being fueled by the University of Texas Health Science Center in Tyler, which encourages multi-disciplinary research in biochemistry, cell biology and immunology. In addition, BMC and local schools are training high school and college students for future jobs in medical manufacturing and machining. “Texas is becoming a biotechnical state, and that’s what we want to be part of,” Austin says. – Roy Moore

EAST TEXAS

‘GREEN HOUSE’ CONCEPT COMES TO LONGVIEW CENTER A new care model emphasizing community living is giving Longview seniors greater control of their lives and improving outcomes. Buckner Retirement Services has opened one of the nation’s few “Green House” centers that focus on de-institutionalizing long-term care. Instead, Buckner Westminster Place’s Green House offers small group homes that house up to 10 residents, who each have private bedrooms and bathrooms and share an open kitchen and a living area. Created by geriatrician William Thomas, the model uses an elder assistant called a “shabazim” to help residents. In Longview, the Green House is part of Buckner Westminster Place, a 16-acre lakeside home for independent living, assistedliving and memory-impaired seniors. Residents of the Holly and Hawthorne homes help establish menus and activities. Nurses visit regularly to assist with medical needs, but residents control their environment and schedule, says Debbie Bravo, administrator and Green House guide. The home is staffed by at least one nurse at all times working under the direction of the residents’ physicians. “Traditional nursing care has to change to an environment that gives our elders back control of their daily routine, providing them choices that extend as much independence as possible for as long as possible,” Bravo says. – Roy Moore

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Good Advice Small-business center classes, training leave imprint on East Texas economy

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the first six months,” Hicks says. “Paperwork is not one of my strengths.” Hicks’ four-year-old Longview business specializes in washing sidewalks, entryways and restaurant grill systems. He hopes to add a second rig to take on more clients.

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essie Hicks took Kilgore College Small Business Development Center’s eight-week “How to Start and Operate a Business in East Texas” class more than two years after launching East Texas Power Wash. “It is a class I should have taken in

Brad Bunt, director of Kilgore College Small Business Development Center in Longview, connects entrepreneurs to professionals with specific business expertise.

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The class helps new and existing business owners like Hicks with basics like accounting, business plans, marketing and payroll. The program is offered at the center’s main location in Longview and has branched out to three other cities. Brad Bunt, center director, brings in local bankers, lawyers and other professionals who work with small businesses, allowing students to tap that expertise and gain some experience. The $99 business basics class is one of the center’s many offerings. Bunt puts together more specialized courses on using accounting software, starting a Web site, selling on eBay, handling worker’s compensation claims and understanding mineral rights. The center provides access to expensive subscriptions for government contracting specifications, databases of sector-specific potential clients and templates for creating personnel policies and marketing plans. A.J. Merritt, owner of Merritt Tool Co. in Kilgore, says he could not afford those resources on his own. In the 1970s, the machine shop diversified into aerospace so it would not be dependent on f luctuations in the oil industry. Now, the tool shop splits its work 60-40 between aerospace and oil. “You really have to know what you’re doing (with aerospace),” he says. “It was a lot of money to maintain those specs.” Merritt Tool’s quality-control staff uses the center’s resources regularly, and the boss has sent employees there for accounting and other training. “More than 4,000 people have come through this class,” Bunt says. “We get everything from they guy who just retired and wants to start a small business to the owner of a $20 million machine shop.” – Pamela Coyle

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education

Job Ready ACADEMY COURSES, NEW TRAINING CENTER TURN OUT WORKERS WITH SKILLS IN DEMAND Students at nearly a dozen East Texas high schools can take courses in computer-aided design, medical terminology, health-science technology, welding and circuits, and work toward professional certification and good-paying jobs. The Workforce Academy program is a partnership among Longview Economic Development Corp., the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force for Workforce Readiness, Kilgore College and Texas State Technical College in Marshall. It dovetails with a second major workforce initiative – a new building on Kilgore College’s campus in Longview that is geared toward industrial maintenance education. LEDCO pitched in a $200,000 grant and has been soliciting equipment donations from local industries. The college offers a two-year associate’s degree and certification programs in industrial maintenance. The new facility accepted its first batch of students

in August 2008. Before launching the Workforce Academy classes, LEDCO surveyed employers and students, finding big interest and a big gap in the region’s workforce. And industrial firms, including those in the oil and gas industries, say they don’t have enough skilled workers to maintain increasingly sophisticated equipment. “Research shows that 70 to 80 percent of jobs here need certification or a two-year degree,” says Julie Wiersig, LEDCO workforce development director. “We don’t discourage getting four-year degrees, but we can show the need for skilled workers that employers have.” The first class – computer maintenance and repair – opened at New Diana High School in fall 2008 with six students. Students attend classes two nights a week, earning both college and high school credit. If they take the second-level course in spring 2009 they can take the certification exam. Those jobs, Wiersig said, pay $25 an hour or more. Student interest and availability of instructors from Kilgore and TSTC each semester determine courses. Pat Clark, superintendent of New Diana schools, says collaboration between high schools, postsecondary institutions and businesses saves resources and targets job training. “I think this is the route to go in the future,” Clark says. – Pamela Coyle

A Prescription for Partnership KEY PLAYERS PUT NURSING PROGRAM ON A FAST TRACK Faced with a nursing shortage, two hospitals, Tyler Junior College and the Jacksonville Economic Development Corp. took less than six months to attack the problem. A new program housed at East Texas Medical Center in Jacksonville accepted its first 40 students in fall 2008, split evenly between tracks for licensed vocational nurses and registered nurses. Tyler Junior College, which has a School of Allied Health, provides instruction, and JEDCO kicked in a $360,000 grant. “It has been a wonderful project,” says Paul Monagan, the college’s dean of allied health and nursing. “Students are so grateful. This gives people in Rusk and Cherokee counties a chance to

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get a great career.” ETMC donated 4,500 square feet of space, and 17 patient rooms were renovated into classrooms, offices and skills labs. Trinity Mother Frances Hospitals and Clinics is pitching in $225,000 over three years to support the nursing programs, which include courses students need before admission to the RN program. Funding a nursing program is a bit unusual for the economic development agency but the move made sense, says Darrell Prcin, JEDCO president. “There’s a real lack of local nurses,” he says. “It was the right time and the right deal. Both hospitals saw the true need and they came together.” – Pamela Coyle

Two hospitals, a community college and a development agency partnered to get a new nursing program off the ground.

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transportation

Zoned In Regionâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s foreign-trade designations offer advantages to luring industry

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F has also applied to include The FTZ Syne Park industrial complex in the Synergy i the zone. Kilgore into Throu Through efforts of the Kilgore Econom Development Corp., the city Economic was one of the pioneering entities in the regi region to enact a “Freeport Tax Exempti Exemption,” which allows an exemption for property taxes paid on goods, m wares, merchandise and other tangible property acquired in Texas or brought into the state and held less than 175 days bef before being shipped elsewhere. Since rolling out the exemption in th savings to companies have 2007, the sub been substantial with the increased tax base mo more than making up for the lost rev tax revenue, says Amanda Nobles, ex KEDC executive director. th first year, Kilgore’s taxing In the l around $28 million in value, entities lost Nobles says, but made up the difference with a more than threefold increase in its tax base. “It really gives companies that have a lot of inventory bound for outside the state an advantage that they don’t have in other locations,” Nobles says. “If you target industries, we have advantages over other cities along the same trade routes we’re on. It would be shooting ourselves in the foot not to do it.” – Joe Morris

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ew business and industrial parks coming online and a Foreign Trade Zone designation at East Texas Regional Airport and its adjacent business park are making East Texas even more advantageous for business. The airport has held FTZ status since 1999, says Shelby Keys, foreign trade zone director for the East Texas Regional Airport and 300-acre East Texas Industrial Airpark next to the facility. “We have one manufacturer here that uses it on a large scale, because they applied to become a subzone, which means they don’t have to exist within the FTZ boundaries, but they get the benefits. This is something that we’re able to do for manufacturers and it benefits them tremendously.” The FTZ has been able to secure approval for third-party importers, which has helped increase their presence in the area. That’s important for the airpark in particular, because it’s county-owned land that is for lease only, rather than for sale, which can sometimes be an obstacle. “We work around that when we can, and we’re also working on getting a rail spur into the park, which we think will open a tremendous amount of growth there,” Keys says.

Gregg County operates a Foreign Trade Zone at East Texas Regional Airport. Left: Several companies are part of the FTZ, including Sam Dunn Enterprises Inc., a logistics services firm that operates an 800,000-square-foot warehouse.

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Rapid Transit HIGH-SPEED RAIL COULD MAKE AN EAST TEXAS STOP When someone questions the need for faster rail transit to and through Mineola, Longview, Marshall and other East Texas locales, Griff Hubbard has an easy answer. “It’s not even built yet, and they’ve come,” says Hubbard, executive director of the East Texas Corridor Council. For the first 11 months of fiscal 2008, three municipalities were responsible for 36,300 passengers on Amtrak’s Texas Eagle route, compared to around 33,200 for Dallas. Statistics like that were helpful in the council’s receipt of a $455,000 federal grant in January 2008 to study the feasibility of rapid rail for the region, something Hubbard says is possible in the next 15 years. The board opted to turn that funding over to the Texas Department of Transportation, which will use it to study a passenger component as part of its work on the impact of high-speed rail on freight. Hubbard expects the final study to show that high-speed rail, service between 90 and 115 miles per hour, would be of great benefit to the area. The rail would run alongside the Interstate 20 corridor, and serve 35 incorporated municipalities and 7.1 million people that make up the council’s coverage area. “East Texas is way behind the rest of the nation in terms of integrating passenger rail into a balanced transportation mix, but we’re catching up fast,” Hubbard says. – Joe Morris

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livability

Golden Opportunity State program helps East Texas communities draw retiree residents

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ome East Texas towns are getting older and are doing so on purpose. Pa lestine, At hens, Long view, Pittsburg and Henderson all are in the “GO TEXAN” Certified Retirement Community Program. They’ve passed a rigorous review of their recreational amenities, medical facilities, housing options and cultural offerings. The 200-page application included data on employment and volunteer opportunities. With state certification comes marketing power that targets demographic gold – retiring baby boomers. “The bottom line is to make it on a short list, and hopefully people will check out certified communities first,” says Gus Gustafson, director of community and economic development in Pittsburg. “One study estimates $2.3 trillion in baby boomer discretionary income annually. It would be nice to get a piece of that pie.” Texas is a popular retirement destination, second only to Florida, based on the ranks of new folks aged 60 and up relocating from other states, according to the North Carolina Center for Creative Retirement. “Texas is truly a welcome mat of opportunity,” says Agricultural Commissioner Todd Staples. “East Texas with the lakes and rivers offers a

fantastic option, with abundant golf courses, recreational hunting and fishing aspects. People look for multiple opportunities, and East Texas has positioned itself well.” Palestine, with 18,000 residents and an impressive collection of historic homes, set up Web site www.retire inpalestinetx.com as part of its new marketing effort last fall. The state website, www.retireintexas.org, has had hits from 23 countries. Janice Burris, a local Realtor, says she and her colleagues already see retirees looking to relocate to East Texas from other states or other Texas regions. Moderately priced homes, a lower cost of living, proximity to major metros, less traffic, natural assets and historic districts are among the draws, she says. “It’s a beautiful place to live,” says Brian Malone, executive director of the Palestine Economic Development Corp. “Whether you want to play golf or tennis or kick back and fish or do things that impact others’ lives.” Part of the idea is to draw prospective retiree residents to sample the region’s options, so East Texas cities are working together to coordinate tourism efforts. GO TEXAN is in its infancy, but interest is growing. “The sky’s the limit, and we have a lot of sky,” Staples says. – Pamela Coyle

John and Sharon Martini chose to call Kilgore in East Texas home after retiring from the medical industry in Florida. STAFF PHOTO

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livability

Up on

Main Street Program helps transform East Texas town centers

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ake a look at downtown Henderson to see what 20 years as a designated Texas Main Street community looks like. Period lampposts, trees, flowerbeds and hanging baskets grace the streetscape. Merchants invest in decorative canopies and elaborate window displays. Piped-in music adds to the overall ambience. The National Register of Historic Places lists nearly 40 restored buildings. “It has taken us from a declining downtown with vacant buildings to what we call the most picturesque town in East Texas,” says Suzanne Cross, the city’s tourism director and Main Street coordinator. Henderson’s neighbors might disagree. Palestine, Carthage, Marshall, Pittsburg and Longview also are among the 88 communities statewide in the program, which capitalizes on historic architecture and other small-town assets. Carthage started in 2001 and, like most Main Streets, offers grants to help merchants fix up their buildings. In 2008, the $1,500 grants became available for roof replacement and

repair, says Debbie Pierce, Carthage Main Street manager. Businesses in the Carthage district also can qualify for tax abatements for interior infrastructure, and plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling upgrades. Carthage Main Street transformed an eyesore corner into a quaint public park, created a 30-point walking tour and, in October 2008, hosted a downtown festival and ceremony to mark a renovated neon theater marquee. With certification, a community gets help and technical assistance, but tailors the program to its own needs. “It is a self-help program. It is not a handout program,” says state coordinator Debra Farst. “They are locally funded, locally controlled programs that have stood the test of time.” Texas estimates the Main Street program has spawned $1.3 billion in private investment, created 23,000 jobs and launched 5,900 new businesses since its start in 1981. And no two programs are alike. “There is tremendous respect for uniqueness and individuality for each downtown and community,” Farst says. – Pamela Coyle The C.E. Dilley building, built in 1882, is a Palestine landmark. Palestine is a designated Texas Main Street community. STAFF PHOTO

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energy

Fired Up

on Gas Oil is still important in East Texas, but natural gas is a hot fuel

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il may be the bedrock of the East Texas economy, but the bedrock itself is proving to be valuable in its own right these days. Even as new technology allows for more and deeper oil drilling, natural gas has become a hot commodity. “There’s going to be a lot more gas wells drilled right now because gas exploration is a little easier to pursue than oil exploration,” says Jerry Pybas, who along with Larry Tate owns Southport Environmental and Development Inc. in Kilgore. “In East Texas, there’s an opportunity to find some big gas fields right now, and it’s not nearly as expensive to operate a gas well compared to an oil well,” he says. Ramona Nye, spokeswoman for the Texas Railroad Commission, says overall energy prices are driving strong exploration now, with natural gas leading the way. “Oil production plateaued in 1972 and has been dropping ever since, although it does go up and down,” Nye says. “Natural gas is continuing to go up. We have some of the largest naturalgas shelves in the nation, and we don’t have production on some of them yet.” Drawing great interest is the Haynesville Shale formation, which runs under northeast Louisiana and East Texas. Drilling has only begun recently, and early data indicate that the shale may run as far west as Panola and Harrison counties, perhaps even under Rusk, Gregg and others. Preliminary costs for a well into the Haynesville Shale are estimated to be around $8 million, with a return of around $70 million at current natural-gas prices. “There’s shale in every sedimentary basin in the United States, and nobody’s ever really messed with it,” Pybas says. “There are two things that make that possible now: technology and price. If

Oil derricks line the streets on the “World’s Richest Acre” in downtown Kilgore. STAFF PHOTO

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you can drill down to it, get it up and make a lot of money doing so, then you’re going to do it. That’s why we’re seeing people coming in here, and paying what they’re paying for some of this acreage around here.” With oil wells dotting the landscape for more than 70 years, it’ll be a shift for some to see the natural gas rigs popping up, but they’re becoming the norm, not the exception, he adds. “There hasn’t been a major oil find in East Texas in a long time, but that’s not to say it’s not out there and that people aren’t looking for it,” Pybas says. “But right now the energy folks are going for natural gas. We’re going to be oil and gas dependent for a long time, so the price is going to stay up, and that’s going to drive where the exploration dollars go.” – Joe Morris

Scorecard ENERGY OUTPUT

14,606 Number of natural gas wells in East Texas counties as of February 2008

12,789 Number of oil wells in East Texas counties as of February 2008

341.7 million Total number of barrels of oil produced in Texas in 2007

6.8 billion Cubic feet of natural gas from Texas wells in 2007 Source: Railroad Commission of Texas

Growth Streak Demand for oil is fueling a demand for more drilling and drilling equipment. Longview’s LeTourneau Technologies Inc., a subsidiary of Houston-based Rowan Cos., has contracted with Lamprell Energy for construction of a Super 116E class drilling rig. The construction will take place at Lamprell’s Jebel Ali facility in the United Arab Emirates, with final delivery set for June 2010, according to LeTourneau, which produces equipment for the drilling, mining and timber industries. The company employs about 2,600 people, including 1,150 in Longview. According to LeTourneau, the Super 116E is designed to drill in up to 350 feet of water in moderate environmental locations, and can be outfitted to handle high temperaturehigh pressure wells. The rig is the third 116E under construction under license from LeTourneau, which built the world’s first jack-up drilling rig in 1955 and has since been a leader in the industry. It has designed or built one-third of all jack-up rigs in service, including all 21 operated by Rowan. “Everything is going along well, and with the recent announcement of this contract we hope to continue increasing the offshore business,” says Suzanne McLeod, director of investor relations for Rowan. “We have others coming out this year that will be placed to work in the Gulf of Mexico.” The company has land rigs in Texas, Oklahoma and Alaska, and will continue to produce them as needed for oil and natural gas exploration. – Joe Morris

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manufacturing

Made in East Texas

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Regionâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s business climate, transportation network boost manufacturing operations

World Research Co. in Tyler manufactures dry-erase boards for classrooms and ships its products around the globe.

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ow tax rates, economic development incentives and easy access to transportation make East Texas a manufacturing hub. More importantly, the companies that start here tend to stay – and grow – here. World Research Co., which manufactures dry-erase boards for classrooms, has shipped millions of its products around the globe and is a key customer to local suppliers of corrugated boxes and other packing supplies, as well as wood vendors and other raw-material manufacturers in the area. Founded in 1970, the company has remained in Tyler, only moving across town when more space was needed. “My parents bought a place at Lake Tyler and they just loved it here, so they came up with a reason to stay in the area,” says Colleen Hayes, company president. “We’re ingrained here now, both in terms of our supplier network and the community. We’ve been here forever and we have every plan to stay.” Tyler is also home to Ryno Industries, a custom manufacturer of sporting bags with individualized team logos and colors. Founded in 1996 by Brandon Steele, president and chief executive, Ryno went on to purchase Athletic

“You probably could do this anywhere, but Tyler is my home, and it’s one of the great cities of America.” Bag Co. in 2001 and Shamrock Sports Bags in 2002, giving the company an established national presence in the athletic-bag market. The company also has expanded into commercial real estate development, middle-market investment banking, petrochemical engineering and construction through subsidiary companies. Vu-Ryte Inc. has gone from being the first inhabitant of the Tyler Area Business Incubator in 1991 to a nationally recognized name in ergonomically designed computer and workstation accessories. While the company has changed some product lines and revamped others in response to changing workstation configuration and innovations in flatscreen monitors and other computer accessories, all of its work is still done in Tyler, says Tom Ramey, president and

chief executive officer. “We were the first to build incremental stands that adjust in heights, and now if you go to the OSHA Web site and look at the office-ergonomics section there are pictures of our products,” Ramey says. “But hardware changes and furniture is reconfigured, so we’re retooling for flat panels and a few other things that we’ve discovered in our research.” Making its products was easy compared to setting up a distribution network, something that Vu-Ryte continues to be able to do from East Texas. “You probably could do this anywhere, but Tyler is my home, and it’s one of the great cities of America,” Ramey says. “We’re going back to our roots for our second generation of our company, and we’re doing it from here.” – Joe Morris

Making the Investment INCENTIVES HELP DIVERSIFY ECONOMY, PROMOTE FUTURE DEVELOPMENT When they say they’ve got closure in Kilgore, they’re not kidding. The city has landed a new water bottle-cap production plant that will be operated by Alcoa Closure Systems International-North America. Alcoa has a food-lid production plant in Kilgore, so the new plant dovetailed nicely with the company’s existing operations in the city, officials said when the move was announced in January 2008. The company’s new “plant within a plant” will have separate management and personnel, but will share some facets of the operation, such as freight and transportation services. To help make it all happen, the Kilgore Economic Development Corp. gave Alcoa a $100,000 incentive check, money that ties the manufacturer to a threeyear timeline that includes $1.5 million in capital improvements and creation of at least 18 jobs. It’s that kind of up-front investment with strings attached that helps build the region’s business base, a number-crunching exercise that the KEDC does all

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the time, says Amanda Nobles, executive director. “We gave them the investment and job-creation incentives, and donated the land to them to get that plant, which could have gone to Shreveport or any of their other locations,” Nobles says. “We did that after our impact analysis showed that there was going to be a very positive return on the dollars we invested.” The KEDC conducts an impact analysis on every project with which it is involved and invests only in those that have a positive bottom line. That can be a return of anywhere from $15 for every dollar invested to more than $200 on every dollar of investment, Nobles says. “Our board uses the analysis to see what kind of incentive to offer,” she says. “If it’s an industry we really need in order to diversify our economy, we might be willing to accept a lower return than for a company where we already have a strong sector. We’re never going to ignore those, but we’re not going to offer a large incentive because we don’t have to.” – Joe Morris

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food & agriculture

Pittsburg-based Pilgrim’s Pride is the nation’s largest chicken producer, processing 9 billion pounds of poultry each year.

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The

Grape Stuff

Meat of the

EAST TEXAS MAKES SOME GREAT WINES Jeff Sneed moved to East Texas eight years ago from Southern California and turned a 30-year hobby of winemaking into a full-time business. “The demand for Texas-made wine is high here,” says Sneed, who operates Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards in Pittsburg with his wife, Dana. Los Pinos is by no means alone. LouViney Winery & Bistro in Winnsboro produces nearly a dozen wines, including some endorsed by country singer and East Texas native Miranda Lambert. Kiepersol Estates Winery in Tyler and Maydelle Country Wines also are among the region’s wine producers. Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards produces eight varieties of wine – four dry and four sweet – from grape varietals grown in its own vineyards as well as vineyards in West Texas, New Mexico and California. The winery includes a tasting room where guests can enjoy creative tapas (prepared by chef Dana Sneed) and relax with a glass of wine. “Every day I pinch myself, because this experience has just been magical,” Jeff Sneed says. – Jessica Mozo

Matter E

ast Texas raises plenty of cattle but its food industry doesn’t stop there. The region’s food processors produce everything from savory beef and chicken fajita meat to smoked turkeys and cooked and fresh chicken products. Value-added meat product maker John Soules Foods Inc. operates a 240,000-square-foot plant in Tyler and employs approximately 500 workers. In business since 1975, John Soules Foods distributes its line of fajita products, both raw and fully cooked, to food service distributors, supermarket chains and multi-unit regional and national restaurant groups. “Our company caters to the needs of individuals and families because we offer quick and healthy snack or meal alternatives,” says Kim Seliga, sales coordinator for John Soules Foods. Tyler is also home to Greenberg Smoked Turkeys Inc., which has been in business for 68 years and is operated by the Sam Greenberg family. The company sells fully cooked, readyto-serve turkeys weighing between six and 15 pounds to customers around the country. Pittsburg is home to iconic chicken processor Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., a Fortune 500 company with annual sales of more than $7.6 billion.

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From a single feed store started some 60 years ago, the company today is the largest chicken producer in the United States, employing some 53,500 people and processing 9 billion pounds of poultry each year. “Pilgrim’s Pride has established a longstanding reputation for industryleading innovation,” says Ray Atkinson, corporate communications director. The company was among the first in the industry to produce individually quick-frozen cooked and fresh chicken products. In 1984, it developed the world’s first boneless whole chicken, and in 1997 introduced EggsPlus, a healthier alternative to ordinary eggs. Pilgrim’s Pride has also been named among the “Most Admired Companies in America” by Fortune magazine for six consecutive years and was named one of the “400 Best Big Companies in America” by Forbes Magazine for the sixth time in 2007. Atkinson attributes the company’s success to its longstanding commitment to meet customer demands. “Pilgrim’s Pride continues to follow our strategy of listening carefully to customers and giving them exactly what they want,” he says, “just as we did with the old farm supply store nearly 60 years ago.” – Jessica Mozo

JEFF ADKINS

East Texas economy beefs up on food-processing industry

East Texas is home to a burgeoning wine industry, with a growing number of vineyards and producers.

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recreation

The

Reel Deal

Fisheries center is stocked with family entertainment

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A

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of water in aquariums that display 40 species of native fish, alligators and amphibians. “All of our aquariums were designed by the same people who designed the many amazing aquariums in New Orleans,” Forshage says. The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center is an $18 million facility whose attractions also include a casting pond and

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P H OTO C O U R T E S Y O F T H E E DW I N L . C OX J R . , T F F C

llen Forshage says many people are surprised after they visit the Edwin L. Cox Jr. Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens. “They are amazed that a world-class, aquatic-based facility exists in a small community such as Athens,” says Forshage, Fisheries Center director. The center, which runs on a $2 million annual budget, includes 300,000 gallons

The Edwin L. Cox Jr. Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens combines interactive entertainment and outdoor education with a production fish hatchery.

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recreation The $18 million Edwin L. Cox Jr. Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, which includes a casting pond and production fish hatchery, draws more than 60,000 people each year. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE EDWIN L. COX JR. TFFC

production fish hatchery. The center, run by the Inland Fisheries Division of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, lures more than 60,000 people each year, with 30,000 of those visitors opting to fish in the stocked casting pond. Some 20,000 annual visitors are school children. “If a family wants to have a nice outing and go fishing, they can enjoy a great day here for a very low fee,” Forshage says. Admission is $5.50 for adults and $3.50 for children. The casting pond at the center is stocked with rainbow trout and channel catfish. However, the center is responsible for stocking much more than just the on-site casting pond. “We are actually one of only five state hatcheries that produce fish for stocking into Texas waters,” Forshage says. “It has resulted in Texas becoming one of the best fishing states in the nation, especially thanks to the successful production of largemouth bass.” The center raises some largemouth that can grow to 13 pounds or larger by the time the bass are stocked into lakes and rivers. “An ultimate goal of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is to produce a new world record largemouth bass,” Forshage says. “It would be nice to someday have a world record with ties to our specific hatchery.” The complex includes a one-mile wetlands nature trail as well as an interactive scuba diving show and a visitor center. A tram ride lets visitors learn about the hatchery process. In 2007, the center received the Sport Fish Restoration Award for Aquatic Education, presented annually by the American Fisheries Society. “A lot happens here at our Fisheries Center,” Forshage says. “We welcome everyone to stop by and be surprised at just how much we have to offer.” – Kevin Litwin

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A Fine Kettle of Fish

Lake Fork is a prime destination for anglers

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Along with fishing, the lake area offers some of the best duck hunting in East Texas. Mallards and gadwalls are in abundance, especially during November, December and January, when duck-hunting season takes place. “And for nature lovers, Lake Fork is the place to be in the winter because American bald eagles make their home here,” Donahue says. “Each January, the lake takes an official eagle count, and many tourists visit specifically for that event.” Wood County officials estimate that Lake Fork provides an annual $25 million annual impact to the local economy, which is 10 percent of Wood County’s total economic output. “There are different kinds of lodging and restaurants in the area, plus we have two golf courses in the immediate vicinity,” Donahue says. “We host a lot of corporate outings where business people come here for a day of golf and then another day of fishing. You can’t help but have a good time at Lake Fork.” – Kevin Litwin

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t weighed 18.18 pounds and is still the biggest largemouth bass ever caught in Texas. And it was caught on Lake Fork in 1992. The scenic reservoir in Wood County is where 34 of the 50 biggest largemouth bass in the state have been caught. In addition, more bass weighing more than eight pounds are caught in Lake Fork than any other Texas lake. “Largemouth bass are a big reason why thousands of outdoor enthusiasts love to come here every year to fish,” says Dana Donahue, the president of the Lake Fork Area Chamber of Commerce. “We are famous for bass because they are big, but we also have some world-class crappie, catfish, bluegill and sunfish.” Lake Fork fishing is especially good because the water holds a lot of downed timber where fish congregate. “The climate here is also classified as subtropical and humid, with warm summers and mild winters,” Donahue says. “Those conditions are ideal for fish to thrive.”

Wood County officials estimate fishing-related business has a $25 million annual economic impact in the region.

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arts & culture

Picking Up

Steam The not-so-little engines of the Texas State Railroad get new life

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hat a difference a year makes. That’s the time that it took for a new operator to take the Texas State Railroad from near shutdown to a thriving enterprise, providing family entertainment while generating tourism dollars for Cherokee County. The railroad, which was established in 1881 by the state prison system, is now operated by American Heritage Railways, which took over from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in September 2007. American Heritage also operates the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad in Colorado and the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad in North Carolina among its portfolio. (Go to www.texasstaterr.com for more information on the Texas State Railroad.) During its first year, American Heritage made its mark with a stream of events, including hosting Thomas the Tank Engine and Polar Express special events, which drew a combined 31,000 riders, says Lori Kastrop, marketing manager. The Thomas event drew riders from 23 states and Polar Express drew riders from 19 states. The railroad also hosted The Little Engine that Could tour, as well a live show featuring the Lone Ranger and Tonto, both of which were successful and may be repeated, Kastrop says. In addition to regular train runs and special excursions for Valentine’s Day and other holidays, American Heritage also is working to spiff up the railroad’s rolling stock, all of which had some understandable wear and tear. The renovations will

be carefully done and true to the railroad’s history and heritage, Kastrop says. “We have just begun the restoration process, which will involve the cars and some of the engines,” she says. “The cars are being completely restored, but since we’re running all the time it’s an ongoing process.” The coach cars are being completely refitted, including upgrades to paint, f looring, windows, roofs and wheels. American Heritage also will add cars to the railroad, including more with climate-control options.

“We’ve done a lot and we have a lot more to come. We’re excited about what we can bring to East Texas.” On the locomotive side, the Engine 300 steam engine is being broken down for maintenance, repair and restoration as required by federal law, and the other locomotives will follow it over time. In the coming months the railroad will explore adding more special events and regular excursions to its schedule even as its operators continue to spiff up everything from the gift shop to the souvenir selection. “We’ve done a lot and we have a lot more to come,” Kastrop says. “We’re excited about what we can bring to East Texas.” – Joe Morris

Special events for the Polar Express and Thomas the Tank Engine drew 31,000 riders for the Texas State Railroad.

EAST TEXAS

STAFF PHOTOS

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EAST TEXAS


arts & culture

Living History Museum gushes with exhibits, education on the East Texas oil industry

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verything in East Texas changed in the early 1930s, when oil was first discovered. And for the last 28 years, the East Texas Oil Museum has chronicled the industry’s ups and downs from then to now. “We’ve had 1.35 million visitors from all 50 states and 126 other countries,” says Joe White, director. “And our economic impact on the local community is considerable.” By the museum’s estimation, some $13.5 million has been spent in Kilgore and the surrounding area over the life of the museum, and with all that’s happening there now the facility will continue to be a revenue generator for the community well into the future. “We are finishing a short film on drilling in the shale, and that will be very educational for the visitors,” White says. “It will show the technology of drilling into deeper zones, the directional drilling. We’re not getting rid of our early 1930s exhibits, but we’re now looking to add some new exhibits on

current and future energy sources.” The museum, which is at the doorstep of the Kilgore College campus, in 2005 launched the Got Oil Café, an educational outreach program for teachers from fourth to seventh grade. The program provides knowledge and skills required for various state tests, and draws around 10,000 children from a 120-mile radius each year. But while education and outreach take more of the museum’s time and energy, its core function, that of promoting the region and its history, remains unchanged. “We promote tourism, we work at that every day,” White says. “We take our 40-odd volunteers once a year to other museums in the area so they can see what they do and become better ambassadors not only for us, but for the region. If we can keep people in the area for a day, then they’ll spend the night, see something else, and we’ll all win.” – Joe Morris

The East Texas Oil Museum in Kilgore has pumped some $13.5 million into the region’s economy.

EAST TEXAS

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ECONOMIC PROFILE BUSINESS CLIMATE The East Texas region is strategically prepared for business, with its proximity to Mexico, excellent infrastructure, skilled and trainable workforce and favorable pro-business climate.

ANDERSON COUNTY Palestine Area Chamber of Commerce 401 W. Main St. P.O. Box 1177 Palestine, TX 75802 (903) 729-6066 (903) 729-2083 (fax) www.palestinechamber.org www.co.anderson.tx.us

CAMP COUNTY Camp County Chamber of Commerce 202 Jefferson St. Pittsburg, TX 75686 (903) 856-3443 (903) 856-3570 (fax) www.pittsburgchamber.com www.co.camp.tx.us

CHEROKEE COUNTY Rusk Chamber of Commerce 415 N. Main St. Rusk, TX 75785 (903) 683-4242, (800) 933-2381 www.rusktexascoc.org www.co.cherokee.tx.us

GREGG COUNTY Longview Partnership 410 N. Center St. Longview, TX 75601 (903) 237-4000, (903) 237-4000 www.longviewchamber.com www.co.gregg.tx.us

HARRISON COUNTY Marshall Texas Chamber of Commerce 213 W. Austin Marshall, TX 75671

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IMAGESEASTTEXAS.COM

(903) 935-7868, (800) 935-7868 (903) 935-9982 (fax) www.marshall-chamber.com www.co.harrison.tx.us

HENDERSON COUNTY The Chamber of Athens Texas 1206 S. Palestine St. Athens, TX 75701 (903) 675-5181 (800) 755-7878 (903) 675-5183 (fax) www.athenscc.org www.co.henderson.tx.us

RUSK COUNTY Henderson Area Chamber of Commerce 201 N. Main St. Henderson, TX 75652 (903) 657-5528 (903) 657-9454 (fax) www.hendersontx.com www.co.rusk.tx.us

SMITH COUNTY Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce 315 N. Broadway Tyler, TX 75702 (903) 592-1661, (800) 235-5712 (903) 593-2746 (fax) www.tylertexas.com www.smithcounty.com

MARION COUNTY

UPSHUR COUNTY

Marion County Chamber of Commerce 118 N. Vale St. Jefferson, TX 75657 (903) 665-2672 (888) GO RELAX (903) 665-8233 (fax) www.jefferson-texas.com www.co.marion.tx.us

Gilmer Area Chamber of Commerce 106 Buffalo St. Gilmer, TX 75644 (903) 843-2413 (903) 843-3759 (fax) www.gilmerareachamber.com www.countyofupshur.com

PANOLA COUNTY Panola County Chamber of Commerce 300 W. Panola St. Carthage, TX 75633 (903) 693-6634 www.carthagetexas. com/chamber

RAINS COUNTY Rains County Chamber of Commerce 410 W. Tawakoni Drive Emory, TX 75440 (903) 473-3913 www.rainschamber.com www.co.rains.tx.us

VAN ZANDT COUNTY Canton Chamber of Commerce 119 N. Buffalo St. Canton, TX 75103 (903) 567-2991 www.cantontxchamber.com www.co.vanzandt.tx.us www.vanzandtcounty.org

WOOD COUNTY Greater Quitman Area Chamber of Commerce P.O. Box 426 Quitman, TX 75783 (903) 763-4400 (903) 763-4913 (fax) www.quitman.com www.co.wood.tx.us/ips/cms

EAST TEXAS


Ad Index

42 Au s ti n Ba n k

C 4 K i lg o r e Co l l eg e

C 3 C it y o f C h a n d l e r

3 8 Ma r s h a l l Eco n o m i c

2 8 C it y o f J e ffe r s o n

D e v e lo p m e n t

Co r p o r ati o n

7 Ea s t T e x a s R eg i o n a l D e v e lo p m e n t Co m pa n y

4 Ea s t T e x a s Wo r k fo rc e S o lu ti o n s

42 R u s k Eco n o m i c

8 E x p r e s s E m p loy m e n t P ro fe s s i o n a l s

D e v e lo p m e n t

Co r p o r ati o n

C 2 H e n d e r s o n Eco n o m i c D e v e lo p m e n t Co r p o r ati o n

1 4 I m ag e H os p ita lit y

1 0 Jac k s o n v i l l e D e v e lo p m e n t Co r p o r ati o n

1 8 Pa l e s ti n e T e x a s Eco n o m i c D e v e lo p m e n t

2 T h e U n i v e r s it y o f T e x a s at T y l e r C 2 T y l e r J u n i o r Co l l eg e

6 Va n Eco n o m i c

D e v e lo p m e n t

Co r p o r ati o n


BUSINESS TM

EAST T E XAS 2009 EDITION, VOLUME 2

CU S TO M M AG A Z INE M ED I A

MANAGING EDITOR BILL McMEEKIN COPY EDITOR JOYCE CARUTHERS ASSOCIATE EDITORS LISA BATTLES, JESSY YANCEY ONLINE CONTENT MANAGER MATT BIGELOW STAFF WRITERS CAROL COWAN, KEVIN LITWIN CONTRIBUTING WRITERS PAMELA COYLE, ROY MOORE, JOE MORRIS, JESSICA MOZO DATA MANAGER RANETTA SMITH

CHANDLER Ã&#x2C6; :`kpn`k_X?\Xik Ã&#x2030;

REGIONAL SALES MANAGER CHARLES FITZGIBBON EXECUTIVE INTEGRATED MEDIA MANAGER MIKE ARNOLD SALES SUPPORT MANAGER SARA SARTIN SENIOR PHOTOGRAPHER BRIAN McCORD STAFF PHOTOGRAPHERS JEFF ADKINS, TODD BENNETT, ANTONY BOSHIER, IAN CURCIO, J. KYLE KEENER PHOTOGRAPHY ASSISTANT ANNE WHITLOW CREATIVE DIRECTOR KEITH HARRIS WEB DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR BRIAN SMITH PRODUCTION DIRECTOR NATASHA LORENS ASSISTANT PRODUCTION DIRECTOR CHRISTINA CARDEN PRE-PRESS COORDINATOR HAZEL RISNER PRODUCTION PROJECT MANAGERS MELISSA BRACEWELL, KATIE MIDDENDORF, JILL WYATT SENIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNERS LAURA GALLAGHER, KRIS SEXTON, CANDICE SWEET, VIKKI WILLIAMS GRAPHIC DESIGN ERICA HINES, ALISON HUNTER, JESSICA MANNER, JANINE MARYLAND, AMY NELSON, MARCUS SNYDER

CHANDLER ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL

WEB PROJECT MANAGERS ANDY HARTLEY, YAMEL RUIZ WEB DESIGN LEAD FRANCO SCARAMUZZA WEB DESIGN RYAN DUNLAP, CARL SCHULZ

The Chandler Economic Development Corporation in cooperation with the City of Chandler work to promote new business as well as helping existing businesses and tourism.

WEB PRODUCTION JENNIFER GRAVES COLOR IMAGING TECHNICIAN TWILA ALLEN AD TRAFFIC MARCIA MILLAR, SARAH MILLER, PATRICIA MOISAN, RAVEN PETTY

Chandler is located on State Hwy. 31 just eight miles west of Tyler, Texas and is the gateway to Beautiful Lake Palestine. With new residential developments, outstanding schools, retail shops, medical care facilities and park facilities.

CHAIRMAN GREG THURMAN PRESIDENT/PUBLISHER BOB SCHWARTZMAN EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT RAY LANGEN SR. V.P./CLIENT DEVELOPMENT JEFF HEEFNER SR. V.P./SALES CARLA H. THURMAN SR. V.P./OPERATIONS CASEY E. HESTER

KNPGGFJU!DIBOEMFSUYDPNt   www.chandlertx.com

V.P./SALES HERB HARPER V.P./SALES TODD POTTER V.P./VISUAL CONTENT MARK FORESTER V.P./TRAVEL PUBLISHING SYBIL STEWART V.P./EDITORIAL DIRECTOR TEREE CARUTHERS MANAGING EDITOR/BUSINESS MAURICE FLIESS MANAGING EDITOR/COMMUNITY KIM MADLOM MANAGING EDITOR/CUSTOM KIM NEWSOM

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MANAGING EDITOR/TRAVEL SUSAN CHAPPELL PHOTOGRAPHY DIRECTOR JEFFREY S. OTTO CONTROLLER CHRIS DUDLEY ACCOUNTING MORIAH DOMBY, RICHIE FITZPATRICK, DIANA GUZMAN, MARIA MCFARLAND, LISA OWENS

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RECRUITING/TRAINING DIRECTOR SUZY WALDRIP COMMUNITY PROMOTION DIRECTOR CINDY COMPERRY DISTRIBUTION DIRECTOR GARY SMITH INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY DIRECTOR YANCEY TURTURICE NETWORK ADMINISTRATOR JAMES SCOLLARD IT SERVICE TECHNICIAN RYAN SWEENEY HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGER PEGGY BLAKE CUSTOM/TRAVEL SALES SUPPORT RACHAEL GOLDSBERRY SALES/MARKETING COORDINATOR RACHEL MATHEIS

RECEPTIONIST LINDA BISHOP

Business Images East Texas is published annually by Journal Communications Inc. and is distributed through the East Texas Council of Governments. For advertising information or to direct questions or comments about the magazine, contact Journal Communications Inc. at (615) 771-0080 or by e-mail at info@jnlcom.com.

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EXECUTIVE SECRETARY/SALES SUPPORT KRISTY DUNCAN OFFICE MANAGER SHELLY GRISSOM

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FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: East Texas Council of Governments 3800 Stone Road â&#x20AC;¢ Kilgore, Texas 75662 Phone: (903) 984-8641 â&#x20AC;¢ Fax: (903) 983-1440 www.etcog.org VISIT BUSINESS IMAGES EAST TEXAS ONLINE AT IMAGESEASTTEXAS.COM ©Copyright 2008 Journal Communications Inc., 725 Cool Springs Blvd., Suite 400, Franklin, TN 37067, (615) 771-0080. All rights reserved. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced in whole or in part without written consent. Member Member

Magazine Publishers of America Custom Publishing Council

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EAST TEXAS

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Business Images East Texas: 2009  

The East Texas region is strategically prepared for business, with its proximity to Mexico, excellent infrastructure, skilled and trainable...

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