Scooter manufacturer explains why they're "scooting" out of East Texas

By Donna McCollum - email

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Prospects for a scooter manufacturing plant in Nacogdoches are completely gone.

Nacogdoches city officials said they're stunned a longtime businessman is moving the project to Pflugerville, outside of Austin.

Greg James, the project's CEO and former chair for the Nacogdoches Economic Development said it was *never his intent to catch city officials off-guard.

A business deal that once pushed low-mileage scooters during a time when fuel costs skyrocketed has now ballooned into an electric vehicle prospect. Businessman Greg James said he'll be taking the project to Pflugerville, where alternative energy is big. "They have over 200 charging stations that are going to go in because of a $10-million grant they received from the department of energy," James said.

The announcement came in Austin one week earlier than James had anticipated. Now he's dealing with disgruntled Nacogdoches economic leaders who said they knew nothing of the developments. Nacogdoches city manager Jim Jeffers said, "[It] caught me off guard and I'm a little bit disappointed."

Simultaneous negotiations, sudden new directions and developments at the eleventh hour are common in business deals. The former NEDCO chair said he's no exception. "We actually negotiated with 9 different cities, including Houston and Dallas and San Antonio," said James. "Lufkin approached us. It wasn't that Nacogdoches officials were not informed, it was a matter it wasn't time to tell them. They're somewhat on the receiving end and I'm sorry for that, but that's just the way things worked out."

Nacogdoches officials secured over a million dollars for the manufacturing plant, still only a third of the money James originally requested. James said a year went by and investors became nervous as the project's scale grew. "They had a lot of concern that whether nacogdoches was the right fit."

James had already received a start up loan for a retail outlet. City officials recently discovered it had closed, something Jeffers said is in violation of the agreement. "The note is about $160,000."

James said he hasn't violated any contract terms, citing a distribution center is still in Nacogdoches. Nevertheless, the 25-year Nacogdoches resident said he'll pay the debt by the middle of the month. That will be about the time he'll be joining a new business venture near Austin.

James is in the process of moving. His family has owned a home in the Austin area for 9 years, which influenced their decision to relocate.

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