The Brownfield Industrial Development Corporation (BIDCorp) Board got the opportunity to hear from a few local businesses during their monthly meeting on Monday, July 18, 2022. The Board met with representatives from Farmhouse Vineyard, International Peanut Group, and Lonestar Cajun. Each business requested funds from BIDCorp for industry and infrastructure to help their businesses.
The first person to speak was Katy Jane Seaton of Farmhouse Vineyard. Recently Farmhouse Vineyards purchased the old National Guard Armory which sits south of the Brownfield Sports Complex. Seaton explained to the board who Farmhouse Vineyards is and according to Seaton, Farmhouse Vineyards grows premium fruit and puts it in the hands of premium winemakers. Of course, Farmhouse Vineyards resides in Terry County which is the Grape Capital of Texas and they are comprised of two ‘Brother & Sister in Law combos.” Farm House Vineyards are eight (8) generations combined and currently farm 7000 acres of row crops, 120 of wine grapes, and 3000 head of Dorper Sheep.
The Farmhouse Vineyard brand was established in 2010 for retail wines and opened tasting rooms in 2017, one is local to Brownfield, which is Whitehouse Parker located at 702 Old Lamesa Road. Farmhouse has been growing fruit for the Top 20 Wineries in Texas which has boosted the Texas High Plains American Viticultural Area (AVA). They also provide custom planting and custom Harvesting.
The plan for the old armory is to re-establish it for the community. It will provide a consistent classroom setting for advocacy in and outside of agriculture. A portion of it will become an event venue with a commercial kitchen. Added to the building, will be cold storage for the wine plus other industry items such as wine barrels, bin dumper, wine tanks, lab, grape crusher (press) and etc. Seaton also indicated they would like to bring an alliance with the Brownfield Sports Complex when there are tournaments. Also according to Seaton, this endeavor will increase employment (which already employs around 25 families) in the community and help increase Hotel Occupancy Tax Funds (HOT Funds).
The next person to speak was Mark Gregory of the International Peanut Group (IPG). IPG has been in business for well over 20 years and creates peanuts seed varieties that are suitable to the West Texas region as well as Mid-South and Southeast U.S.; Central and South America; Europe; and Africa. They also have experience with shellers such as Maniagro, AGD, Golden, Lorenzati, Olam, La Cenerentola, Pyxus, Golden, Birdsong, Severn, and Algrano.
According to Gregory, the purpose of the funding they are asking for is for industry-related items which he listed, and is to finish the product barn and to purchase hopper-bottom trailers, farmer-stock barn, sampler cover, forklifts, and caliche. IPG employs 25 people throughout the year and is looking at expanding job creation when this next phase of their business is complete.
There was no representative for the Lone Star Cajun restaurant at the meeting. In the previous BIDCorp meeting, Lone Star Cajun was asking for an infrastructure grant to help pay for the new parking lot. It was tabled until the Board was able to receive more information on the business.
The BIDCorp Board went into an executive session to discuss the appropriate amount of funds for each business. The Lone Star Cajun Restaurant was awarded $48,000 for the parking lot. Farmhouse Vineyards was awarded $140,000 for plumbing, A/C, and security. IPG was awarded $150,000 to finish the barn and the sampler (seed) cover. Farmhouse Vineyards and IPG will have to wait for the City of Brownfield City Council to approve the funds awarded. Any funding $50,000 and over must be approved by the City Council.
Newly appointed Executive Director to BIDCorp Gina Kelly said, “I was excited that we are able to help these businesses… of course, they all fell into our guidelines. I wish we could help everyone, however, we have to follow guidelines from the State of Texas.”
BIDCorp is a Type A economic development corporation. According to the State Comptrollers Office, Type A and Type B EDCs are different and have certain guidelines they must follow.
According to the State Comptroller, a Type A EDC is typically created to fund industrial development projects such as business infrastructure, manufacturing, and research and development. Type A EDCs can also fund military base realignment, job training classes, public transportation, manufacturing, and industrial facilities, recycling facilities, distribution centers, small warehouse facilities, research & development facilities, regional or national corporate headquarters facilities, primary job training facilities operated by higher education institutions, and job training classes.
Type B EDCs can fund all projects eligible for Type A, as well as parks, museums, sports facilities, and affordable housing. However, Type B EDCs are subject to more administrative restrictions than Type A. Also if a Type A EDC wants to do a Type B project, it must go to the voters for approval.
This led to another item of business that was discussed at the meeting. Kelly has been in contact with attorney Jimmy Hammons about the wording needed on the ballot. Kelly has also been in contact with the Terry County Joint Elections Office to find out what it takes to place the expenditures for renovations for the Rialto Theatre, and other buildings on Main Street. Kelly told the Board that she’s had a few discussions and will need an amount to place on the ballot. BIDCorp has till August 22, 2022, to get the Type B Funding on the ballot.
The BIDCorp meeting is slated for August 15, 2022, at 4:00 pm in the Council Chambers at City Hall.