City holds PPG plans in hands

At least 50 new local jobs could be created through a $40 million expansion plan at PPG Industries if the City Council approves several tax incentives at its meeting next week.

PPG Industries Inc., a glass manufacturer north of Wichita Falls, is pushing for a 100,000-square foot expansion that would allow workers to give glass a special energy-conserving coating.

"What we're doing is putting this package together to make it attractive to build it here in Wichita Falls instead of building in other places," said Susan Plies, PPG plant manager. "If these incentives are approved, this is the only option that will be presented to the board of directors in December."

Plies declined to comment on what type of jobs would be created, but the positions would add more than $1 million to the local annual payroll. The company currently has more than 400 workers and is among the city's top-20 employers.

The plant addition hinges on three agreements the Wichita Falls City Council will vote on Tuesday.

(?Under an agreement with the Wichita Falls Economic Development Corporation and the Burkburnett Development Corporation, PPG would get a grant of up to $2 million. Wichita Falls would cover 90 percent of the grant with money from 4A sales tax, while Burkburnett would contribute the remaining 10 percent.

(?The City Council would also nominate PPG as a Texas Enterprise Project, allowing several tax breaks based on how many local jobs they add.

(?Also, they would create an agreement that guarantees the plant immunity from being annexed. The company would pay "in-lieu of taxes" - a percentage of what they would have been assessed in property taxes had they been within the city limits.

The project marks the first time Wichita Falls and Burkburnett have used joint sales tax incentives to help recruit an expansion, said Tim Chase, Wichita Falls Board of Commerce & Industry president.

"This is extremely good news," Chase said, adding that a final decision has yet to be made, and that Burkburnett's City Council will be asked to consider the proposal Monday.

He said that BCI has worked with the company for more than a year "in an effort to present Wichita Falls as the best location for PPG to invest in a new technology."

The PPG Industries expansion would allow local workers to coat glass with a special thin metallic oxide that helps lock-in heat in the winter and keep it out during the summer, Plies said.

Glass produced at the Wichita Falls plant has previously been sent to Dallas where such "low-e" coatings are applied, she said.

The growing commercialization of the I-44 corridor between the two cities, and especially plant expansions, are good news for both cities as an already sluggish economy slowly starts to recover.

Manufacturing jobs are widely considered the hardest hit during the downturn, as outsourcing and technological advances have slashed positions.

However, the city recently has had success in recruiting expansions at both Wichita Clutch and the Pratt & Whitney component repair facility.

600450 City holds PPG plans in hands
Date: 20 October 2004

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