LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - In an effort to change its strategy in order to attract new business, the Lufkin City Council has voted to sell its 95-acre industrial park off of US 103 and purchase a 35-acre lot to use as a new industrial park.
Thirty-five acres on Southpark, adjacent an area already filled up with industry, will soon be owned by the Lufkin Economic Development Corporation. At the same time, its previous 95-acre industrial park is up for sale. It’s more than downsizing, explained Bob Samford, the director of economic development for the City of Lufkin.
"It’s a change in the mentality of the economic development department. We are not looking for another paper mill or another Lufkin Foundry., Samford said.
Instead, economic developers go after manufacturing facilities like the ones that fill up the first phase of Southpark -the kind that fit on a three- to six-acre tract.
“Those types of companies are between 10 to 40 employees that we think will be long-term beneficial," Samford said. "And our number one goal is sustainable, long term generational jobs.”
The property sale will settle a $1.4 million loan the city gave neighboring manufacture, PID, said, Samford. The property’s value is $1.65 million. The difference will be paid in cash by Lufkin Economic Development.
Samford says the 95 acres located across Highway 103 from the closed paper mill isn’t the right fit for the smaller- to medium-sized manufacturer. Investors aren’t interested. The property lacks frontage, and it simply doesn’t have curb appeal, said Lufkin City Manager Keith Wright.
The dismantling of the old paper mill is having an impact on being able to convey the property,” Wright said.
City leaders are confident the right buyer will come along. Meanwhile, they’re not waiting around. The soon-to-happen foreign trade zone approval is expected to lead to development. The city is also planning a road extension of Whitehouse Drive in its comprehensive plan.
“We’ve got to move forward,” Samford said. “We can’t look back in our rearview mirror and say, ‘We wish the paper mill or the foundry would come back.’ They’re not going to come back, and we’re not going to sit around and worry about what used to be. We’re looking forward.”