LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - 2015 started out rough for the Lufkin economy after Lufkin Industries let go of 350 employees and closed down The Foundry.
"It was a real kick in the teeth," said Lufkin Mayor bob Brown. "To lose 350 jobs or when you know 350 people that are seeking jobs, it is a personal heartbreak to me."
However, with the addition of new businesses and current businesses hiring more employees, 2015 didn't turn out as badly as some thought it would.
"With all of the negative stuff that started in 2015, it ended as a great year," Brown said.
Two of the biggest contributors to 2015's success where Holmes Smokehouse and Atkinson candy.
"Holmes Smokehouse was a company that moved to Lufkin and chose to be here and is already at 100 employees," said Lufkin-Angelina Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jim Jones. "Then you have people like Atkinson's Candy, existing since 1932, that are expanding."
The City and Chamber are hoping to continue that economic growth in 2016.
"That's what drives the city, sales tax, but what we really want to do is bring some quality retailers to town," Brown said. "We want to also bring in as many new employers as we can."
In fact, the owner of the Angelina Village, also known as the Old Mall, is investing $6 million in hopes of bringing in major retailers.
"It is right at the front door of our community so I'm excited to death that this new owner has decided to partner with the city of Lufkin to and refurbish it," Brown said.
The City is coming up with a new Master Plan for Lufkin, where they will coordinate together with the commerce and community to bring more businesses to Lufkin.
"We are a resilient city mad we are a can-do city," Brown said. With the citizens that are here and the resources that are here, we will do better."
Another business bringing in major revenue to Lufkin was the Ellen Trout Zoo. The City is planning on upgrading features and bringing in new attractions in an effort to bring more business to the zoo.