After a public hearing with no comments against, the Navasota City Council approved the first reading of Ordinance 990-22 authorizing the city to participate in the Texas Enterprise Zone Program. At the public hearing and Special Meeting Monday, Jan. 18, council members approved the nomination of Champion Home Builders, Inc. located at 9601 Industrial Drive, as an Enterprise Project to the Office of the Governor Economic Development & Tourism through the Economic Development Bank. If approved on the State level, Champion could receive a refund of all, or a portion of the maximum allowed of the 6.25% state sales tax its pays for items purchased for its business.
City of Navasota Economic Development Specialist Rayna Willenbrink gave an overview of the collaborative effort with Champion Home Builders, explained what an Enterprise Zone Project (EZP) is, what the nomination means for the city, and the business prospects. Willenbrink noted this is the first time the city had nominated an EZP.
Hiring local a must
Addressing requirements, Willenbrink said, “The jobs counted for benefit must have an Average Weekly Wage (AWW) which meets or exceeds the average County weekly wage. So, in 2020, the AWW was $1,007.”
She continued, “A certain percentage of the project’s new employees must meet economically disadvantaged Enterprise Zone residency or veteran requirements, with a minimum of 25% at the business located in an Enterprise Zone or 35% outside the Enterprise Zone.”
According to Willenbrink, Champion anticipates hiring 275 new employees and investing $5.8 million in machinery, equipment and renovation costs at the Navasota location. There are approximately 31 positions anticipated to meet the AWW threshold which will result in $77,500 in potential sales tax refunds through the State. Since Champion is located in the Navasota’s extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ), there is no loss of sales tax revenue to the city.
Filling affordable housing need
In attendance was Champion Home Builders’ General Manager Scott Isom who said, “When I got the Navasota opportunity, I was very excited and didn’t waste a lot of time in saying yes. I like the rural community. Champion invested considerably in the building to create a layout in a facility that has a lot of opportunity and that was very noticeable to me in February 2021 on my first trip down here.”
Isom continued, “There’s a housing shortage in Texas. Our product meets that window for a lot of people. A lot of site builders are concentrating on that $275,000- $300,000 and above market but there’s a great need for housing for what we can offer. We’ve got a very good business plan with a simple product that going to allow us to train and repeat through automation and manufacturing techniques. I’m very excited to be here.”
View city council meetings in their entirety at www.navasotatx.gov/city-council/pages/meeting-videos.