Members of the Wichita Falls City unanimously approved a $2.4 million cash for jobs incentive package at Tuesday's meeting. The money will go toward bringing nearly 400 Ulm Corporation jobs to Wichita Falls.
The co-owner of the Ulm Corporation, Billy Ulm, and Director of Operations Ted Baker were at the meeting to advocate for their company and to show their commitment to Wichita Falls. After the Council voted to approve the funding, Baker spoke with Newschannel 6 about bringing the jobs to Wichita Falls. He said, "We're excited, we're very excited. We have several different recruiters that are helping us to recruit not only from here in Wichita Falls but from several states. We're confident that will be able to meet our goal, for sure."
The oil field services and trucking company is incorporated in Nevada and based out of North Dakota. Wichita Falls Executive Vice President For Economic Development Kevin Pearson said Ulm has been very interested in moving to North Texas and when they heard about the number of high paying jobs the company plans to produce they had to act. He said, "We put together what I think was a very aggressive incentive proposal and that got the company's attention."
Executives with Ulm visited Wichita Falls in early February and Pearson briefed the City Council in Executive Session in early March. They looked at several prospective properties to use as a headquarters, including the old Penske Trucking facility on Central Freeway.
The Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce also traveled to Bismark, North Dakota, where the company is located right now. Pearson said they wanted to "kick the tires" and get to know the ins and outs of their operations. He said they've done their homework and were especially careful after what happened with Natura World, a mattress company that received more than 6 million in incentives and went under. Pearson called the Ulm Corporation's finances, "rock solid".
After the Council meeting on Tuesday, Mayor Glenn Barham expressed his confidence in the company and the Economic Development team. He said, "Its not a blank check. We expect good things from the company. The 4A board and the Economic Development folks have done the due diligence, looked into the company and we expect nothing but great things for the future."
Ted Baker said he was aware of the past issues with Natura, noting it came up during their negotiations with the city. He said, "I can tell you from our perspective and also from the discussions we've had with the economic development folks, they're certainly aware of that previous transgression by that other company. In our negotiations that has been at the forefront of their minds. I can tell you that they've done an excellent job to protect the public's interests."
Mayor Barham and Kevin Pearson were both quick to point out the millions in incentives are based on performance. Pearson said, "Before they can get any money they have to perform. If they don't perform, they don't get the money. We're not just writing a check and saying come to Wichita Falls, do a good job."
The Ulm Corporation is receiving roughly a third of the funds Natura was promised, and only creating 28 fewer jobs.
There is also a provision in place that says employees of Ulm must live within 50 miles of the company headquarters, this way they'll be more likely to spend time and money in Wichita Falls. Pearson said getting that stipulation wasn't easy. "That was the big one to overcome with the company. They didn't want to see any type of a radius, If I were a businessman I wouldn't want to be told where my employees can come from... but given the fact that we're offering the company over $2 million, we need to get something out of that."