WICHITA FALLS, Texas (TNN) - UPDATE
The Wichita Falls City Council has approved the multi-million dollar incentive package for the hemp company Panda Biotech.
Wichita Falls has its sights on a new multi-million dollar deal with a company out of Dallas.
The company is Panda Biotech and they work with hemp. Hemp has been a huge topic for this area for some time as growers and sellers work to learn more about the laws behind it. Now that the farm bill has cleared some things up, the city is ready to capitalize on the revenue this could bring along with around 50 to 75 new jobs.
“We’d be talking about tens of millions of dollars going into that the local agricultural community,” said Henry Florsheim, President and CEO of the Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce. “The company’s already negotiating with name brand clothing manufacturers, a company that wants to build concrete using the industrial hemp fiber and several other products.”
The Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce has been working with Panda Biotech, a company that owns energy plants all over the world, for about eight months now. The group is looking to make a decision on their new home, which could have a huge impact on everyone involved.
“95% of those people would be from Wichita Falls. When a company moves in like that they typically bring in a plant manager, or engineers or that sort of thing. But then all the rest of the staff comes from here. And then over time, everybody ends up from here,” said Mayor Stephen Santellana.
Listed on this week’s city council agenda is an incentive package of up to $2.8 million already approved by the 4A board that the council would need to sign off on.
“It looks like it’s gonna be a really good deal and hopefully, we’re the chosen ones and the investments gonna come back to the community,” said Florsheim. “The jobs that are going to be available, I think, be great and then you also have the farming community around it. They are going to ask this farmer to grow the hemp.”
“So there’s already a group of farmers that have been meeting for a year and a half to talk about how do we get more engaged in this, and the thing about hemp is it takes less water than most other crops, and you can grow the stalks very close together,” said Florsheim. “So you don’t need as much land in the soil here, which is very appropriate for it. And so you got farmers that could really benefit financially from this.”
Though Florsheim, who has worked on this proposal for months, says the incentive package does not guarantee the company will choose Wichita Falls, but it will help.
“We still got some other work to do, but it checks off another box, saying that this is one of the last pieces we got to get done,” said Florsheim.
Florsheim tells me that Panda Biotech company executives should be deciding on a location within about a month and should they choose Wichita Falls they would like to be up and running by this October.