Gel Solutions Lays Off All Employees

A multi million dollar investment by the city of Wichita Falls has taken another step backwards.

Gel Solutions, a subsidiary of NaturaWorld USA, let go of its final ten employees Friday.

Gel Solutions was the final trace of NaturaWorld in Wichita Falls, a company that promised to create hundreds of jobs and took millions in incentives from the city.

One of the employees walked into our station doors Friday morning and showed us the paperwork that ended his employment. We are not revealing his name or position to help protect his identity as he waits for his severance.

The Newschannel 6 newsroom reached out to Gel Solutions' parent company, NaturaWorld, based in Canada and city officials the day before the employees were laid off after getting a lot of calls from viewers asking if the plant was closing down.

The mattress company's President and CEO Ralph Rossdeutscher said it was not closing -- at least not that Thursday. He said if it were to close down a press release would be sent out. No press release has been sent out.

Newschannel 6 also spoke with Tim Chase, the president and CEO of the Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce. He said he is under a confidentially agreement and could not go into the details but he believes the ownership of the company will change in the near future.

On Friday Wichita Falls Mayor Glenn Barham assured us, both Natura and Gel Solutions were fully vetted as best as possible. He said, "The 4A Board even went to the extreme of hiring a local, well known, local C.P.A firm to look at the finances of that company for the 3 years prior to the project going forward and that firm said everything looks good, this looks like a good deal, proceed."

The plant and city are in a legal dispute after the city gave the plant $8 million in incentives to come to the city with the promise of generating hundreds of jobs.

In October the city voted to rezone the company when it started to have financial issues. Despite the tax abatement the company continued to struggle and many of its employees were temporarily laid off in February. Natura World then filed for bankruptcy protection two months later.

Newschannel 6 covered this story on our Only On 6 special: When Big Business Promises Are Broken.

Mayor Barham added he still has full confidence in his economic development team. Along with local businesses they've formed a task force and hope to release a plan in the next few weeks.

Jack Lamson, Newschannel 6