Despite Houston-based biomass company leaving, Crockett official - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Despite Houston-based biomass company leaving, Crockett officials optimistic

Source: KTRE Staff Source: KTRE Staff
CROCKETT, TX (KTRE) -

Houston based Zilkha Biomass has announced the closure of their Crockett facility.

According  to CEO Jack Holmes, The closure will affect 24 employees.

"We met with our employees yesterday. and informed them of this decision, Holmes said. "They are being offered severance packages, and the ones that wish to will be given job interviews at our Selma, Alabama plant, where the jobs are being relocated to."

The facility was built in 2010 to serve as a demonstration facility for their patented technology of waterproof wood pellets that are used in Europe and Japan as a substitute for coal.

The facility is also home to a laboratory used for experiments with their biofuels. Holmes said the laboratory positions will be the ones that are transferred right now to Selma. The company is still deciding on what to do with the demonstration part of the facility.

"Crockett has been good to us," Holmes said. "The employees are great. I hope they relocate."

Crockett Economic Development Corporation Director Flint Brent said the city is discussing two possibilities for the facility. The first is for Zilkha to dismantle the plant and pay out the property taxes. The other possibility is for the company to help the city of Crockett find a replacement industry for the plant.

Brent said the city and county are looking at losing $800,000 in wages. He also said the entire facility should be shut down by August.

"America as a whole is losing a lot of it's manufacturing,"Brent said. "It is going to hurt but I am optimistic."

Brent is not letting the Zilkha announcement slow him down. Brent has a vision of expanding other industries that are not tapped into.

"Before the great recession we had four auto dealerships in the county," Brent said. "Now we have one. I want to get more. The car dealerships bring additional taxes that retail does not generate such as floor plan taxes, sales taxes on repairs, and parts and registration on the vehicle. It is a multiplier effect that is greater than retail."

Brent said he is in talks with several retailers as well. Brent could not go into details but said several businesses are planning trips to the Crockett area.

"We are not dying. This year has seen a lot of growth," Brent said. "Zilkha will be a set back. There is always set backs in economic development, so you just have to keep forward thinking and moving."

Brent said Crockett during the month of March generated $1.1 million in taxable sales, and over $843,000 in April. 

Commissioners that listened to Brent this morning seemed optimistic about the future deals the economic board is working on.

"It is a sad day when you lose those businesses in town, but I believe there are brighter futures ahead for Crockett," Commissioner Willie Kitchen said. "I think we are on the edge of a big economic growth."

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