Fueling The Economy

Fueling The Economy
UPDATE: Wichita Falls City Council approved incentive package Tuesday to bring the American Fuel Cell And Coated Fabrics Company or AMFUEL to the city.  AMFUEL officials said they are finalizing a lease agreement at the old Delphi building. The lease is expected to be completed within a week or two.

Shortly after the lease is finalized the move will begin. AMFUEL will eventually bring 280 full-time jobs. Those positions will be added over a phase of two years. 

AMFUEL is looking for key positions in engineering, supply, and human resources. The jobs will also come with health benefits and the potential for bonuses.

"The vast majority of the jobs will be hourly jobs which actually build the fuel cell," said Mike Viscosi, President of AMFUEL. "So we're going to start out small, in fact the first work that we're going to start up here I'm anticipating we'll probably need 20 people in total."

The company is expected to move in this Fall, and begin operation in January 2016.

Officials with AMFUELS investment group said they are already in talks with three or four other businesses that may look to move to Wichita Falls to work along side the company.

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   A new company may be heading to Wichita Falls, bringing nearly 300 jobs. The Wichita Falls Economic Development Corporation voted Wednesday to approve spending $2 million in incentives to bring American Fuel Cell And Coated Fabrics Company or AMFUEL to the city.
AMFUEL is currently owned by Crosslake, a Seattle-based investment firm. It was acquired from Zodiac Aerospace with help from the Texoma Angels who put in $2.5 million. The company has one other location in Magnolia, Arkansas. AMFUEL designs material products for aviation, aerospace, military forces, and commercial transport services.
Officials with the Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce and Industry called the move an exciting opportunity for economic growth and job creation. Three recent Midwestern State University graduates have already been hired by the company. And that's just the beginning, according to company officials.
"We hope to start hiring more employees and hourly employees within two months; it's probably aggressive but certainly within three months," said Michael Viscosi, President and CEO of AMFUEL.

The move would create at least 280 full-time jobs. Those positions would range in skill set, and start off at good wages, according to Florsheim. The lowest starting wage would be $9.50, while other positions could start at as much as $24.99 per hour.

 "So when the company came over to take a look at Wichita Falls they felt the same thing," said Henry Florsheim, President and CEO of the Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce & Industry. "They said 'this is a good fit, we can find the workforce here and it looks like we're going to be able to make that happen."
The money for the incentive package will come from 4-A sales taxes, which is used strictly on economic development opportunities. The money will break up into three different portions:
-A forgivable loan of $800,000 over a term of 10 years at 0% interest. The loan is to be forgiven on an annual basis, provided 280 jobs are created and maintained in Wichita Falls
-A payment of up to $844,740 for new primary jobs, which are created and maintained.
-Skills Development Fund Training Grant up to $366,000.
The total incentive package is worth $2.7 million. However, the addition $700,000 is money that will come from the State.
AMFUEL officials said it's Wichita Falls and its workforce that could help grow the already $26 million company. They said, optimistically, they hope to expand its worth and in two to three years, and become a $40 million company.
 "The reason that Wichita Falls is very attractive to us, is it allows us to expand relatively quickly with a good infrastructure, as I mentioned, and access to an educated skilled workforce," said Britt Gourley, Managing Principal of Crosslake Investment Group.
Official officials said the building location is still unknown, but they are looking at large empty facilities located inside city limits.
"It's a really good partnership, and we're excited about the future," said Florsheim.
However, just because the incentive package was approved by the 4-A Board it does not mean it is a done deal. That money does still need to be approved by the Wichita Falls City Council.
If the incentive is approved by City Council, and AMFUEL accepts the package, the company could move to the city by the end of 2015.
Brittany Costello, Newschannel six