Two entities working for economic growth

Published 9:41 am Thursday, November 15, 2018

By Dawn Burleigh

The Orange Leader


There are two economic developments with the name Orange, which may cause some confusion. One is the Orange County Economic Development Corporation, which encompasses the entire county. The corporation could be the first contact between the county and an outside investor. If an entity, such as the City of Orange, has its own Economic Development department, The Orange County counterpart will direct the investors to the city personnel. While the two entities can and have worked together, the lead person depends on the area the investor is interested in.

For example, an investor is interested in property along Interstate 10 and reaches out to the Orange County Economic Development Corporation for information. The property is actually located within the City of Orange. Orange County Economic Development Corporation directs the investor to City of Orange Economic Development for further negotiations.

The two Economic Development entities remain two separate entities.


Orange County Economic Development Corporation changed focus to improve future

With signs of new businesses throughout the county, Orange County Economic Development (EDC) Director Jessica Hill has shown the changes in the direction the organization has made to better serve the county.

When the community was asked to participate in a poll and feedback, retail was among the highest demand.

The county hired a retail consultant to assist in creating a strategic plan for retail recruitment.

With the county having a projected growth rate of 2.4 percent between 2017-2022, the population could increase from 84,000 to 99,500 in the next few years. More population increases the demand and need for local retail businesses.

“We asked them to look at the county as a single market,” Hill said. “They are exited about the new HEB, Eaglepoint and the businesses locating in Vidor and Bridge City.”

The cities of Pinehurst and Orange are also the locations of two new Burger Kings in the area.

Currently in the ‘pipeline’, are $20 billion projects for Orange County.

As with the city EDC, Orange County EDC is also focused on retaining the current businesses in the area.

In November, to help local businesses in the recovery process, the corporation begun issuing funds to small businesses under its Harvey Small Business Disaster Recovery Grant program. Qualified Orange County businesses received a $5,000 grant to assist with recovery efforts.

The $200,000 in available funds was made available in part through the reallocation of the Economic Development Corporation’s restricted funds.

“I wish we could do more”, Hill said in a press released issued at the time.. “There are 108 businesses we have not be able to assist and even more that did not apply. I am extremely thankful for the patience and cooperation of all those who submitted applications and served on the review committee. We have a long road of recovery ahead.”

Orange County has shown a significant increase in Gross Sales and the amount subject to State Sales Tax in 11 of the past 14 years.

“If you take the numbers at face value, it shows more dollars spent locally,” Hill said. “It has a multiplier effect in the community. Local residents support local family.”

It also allows entities to function more efficiently, according to Hill.

The multiplier effect, according to, is the effect in economics in which an increase in spending produces an increase in national income and consumption greater than the initial amount spent. For example, if a corporation builds a factory, it will employ construction workers and their suppliers as well as those who work in the factory. Indirectly, the new factory will stimulate employment in laundries, restaurants, and service industries in the factory’s vicinity.

Larger industries are still being pursued as well, including maintaining retention of current industries such as Jefferson Gulf Coast Energy Partners.

Jefferson Energy and affiliates have invested over $350 million dollars in the facility since 2012.

Commissioners Court and Orange County EDC approved a Chapter 381 abatement agreement, in February, with Jefferson Gulf Coast Energy Partners, LLC to invest $150,000,000 in the expansion of its trans-load facility in Orange County.

The parties have agreed to 10-year, 100-percent property tax abatement on the improvement value on the investment, along with a payment in lieu of taxes to Orange County.

“Jefferson Energy continues to invest in our community. We are thankful for the partnership and look forward to future opportunities to grow Orange County,” Hill said.

With Orange County connecting business to the world market through highway, rail, and port resources, it continues to strive forward with expanding the market for residents and businesses alike.


Orange economic development attracting new businesses while retaining established companies

Checking the numbers is part of the process for selecting the best site for a new investment.

Among the numbers, along with population, average income, along with miles from highway, railroad and waterways is also the gross sales and the amount subject to state tax.

Those numbers have increased 11 times out of the last 14 years for the city of Orange, showing potential investors the community supports local businesses.

“A prospect investor considering expansion or a new project will look at how residents are supporting the local business industry,” City of Orange Director of Economic Development Jay Trahan said.

Another number is the household average income. For Orange, a household average income is $54, 000 – $55,000.

“That is strong,” Trahan said. “The retention of major employers such as Cloeren, the industries on Chemical Row and International Paper is huge.”

By supporting local business, it gives the city a competitive edge in securing new investors in the area.

“To attract new investors or expansion the foundation is the current companies the community supports,” Trahan said.

With a major event, such as the storm the area experienced in August 2017, there is a spike in spending as insurance and FEMA funds are used to help in the recovery rebuilding.

“It benefits several entities local, state and city,” Trahan said. “The key is retention of businesses, for example International Paper.”

One area targeted for economic development is the 256 acres known as Eagle Point.

The Orange Economic Development Corporation (EDC) recently approved a six-month extension for Boulevard construction, a $650,000 project.

First State Bank, a new bank, choose Orange as home for its corporate office.

The estimated $3 million project currently under construction near MLK and Interstate 10, has also created 50-60 jobs.

The new construction for the new home for First Financial Bank, also currently under construction, is also a sign of economic growth for the city.

“We are working with Shaun LiCatino,” Trahan said of the downtown business. “He has a vision of expanding at the current location. He is working on the plans for the 2018 project.”

Shaun LiCatino owns LiCatino Collision Center on Green Ave. in Orange.

With four prospects targeting sites on Interstate 10, Trahan said it is encouraging.

“It is encouraging in light of what the community is going through,” Trahan said.

Trahan added the city is willing to work on the infrastructure and any development incentives available to attract new investors to the area.

Northway Shopping Center may see changes in the near future as well. New owners acquired the property in 2016.

TCP Realty advertises the location as ‘a 113,457 square foot shopping center strategically located at the Northwest corner of Interstate 10 and State Highway 87 (N 16th Street) in Orange, Texas. The Property enjoys convenient access to many of the city’s major employment centers and residential neighborhoods on the major arterial joining downtown Orange with Interstate 10 and North Orange’s residential areas. The Property is anchored by Market Basket, a dominant grocery store chain in east Texas and southwest Louisiana headquartered nearby. Other tenants include Stage Stores, Pizza Hut and an Exxon/Mobil convenience market.’

“They have an improvement plan and an architectural plan,” Trahan said. “New tenants, new facade.”

Trahan also added two or three retail franchises are considering the location across the street from Modica Bros. on 16th Street.

Tuesday, Trahan said a finalized agreement between JADCO Commercial Development and Chick fil A should be announced in 30-90 days.

“We hope to move forward once the Interstate 10 project is further along,” Trahan said.

New businesses are not the only sign of economic growth, but also residential development.

ITEX management is considering the next phase of residential development near Cypresswood Crossing on State Hwy. 87 in Orange.

“We are planning 40 single family lots,” President of The ITEX Group Chris Akbari said. “The area did not flood. We have been successful selling and building homes there. We will confident we will sell more high quality homes there.”

Another developer, from the Dallas area, is considering a location targeting the senior community.

“This is not an assisted living project,” Jay Trahan said. “This is for independent seniors.”

Trahan said he is encouraged with the amount of interest the city is generating among investors.

“The interest is encouraging and continues to this day,” Trahan said. “From corporate contacts, site selectors, and project managers are targeting the city of Orange for new projects.”