Unemployment in Nolan County low

During the SEED (Sweetwater Enterprise for Economic Development) board meeting on Monday morning, April 9, 2012 at First Financial Bank, the board approved a contract to work with Cape and Son for an economic development opportunity.Ken Becker, the executive director of SEED, noted that the existing business has been looking toward expansion for the past four years. Representatives with the company, Geoff Haney and Austin Rose, were at the meeting to present their proposal to the board.Haney noted that their company hopes to lease three additional tracks which would increase capacity and efficiency. An upgrade in equipment would be necessary to handle the higher volume, which has been examined by engineers and track constructors. SEED will also be helping fund track mobiles.This opportunity, stated Haney, would allow the company to expand and bring more construction and building materials by rail and in the long term, do more business within the area.A budget summary and corporate finance review were presented to the board along with the expectations, a breakdown of procedures and statement of the advantages of bringing the opportunity locally--as the company would be the only area in the region to handle this capability.A question and answer session was also held between the board and the company representatives. This opportunity would make Sweetwater a competitive force among other larger markets in the state from a travel and financial perspective, with the potential to run around 220 cars in 96 hours. Currently, Cape and Son has six full time employees with around 15 to 20 workers at their peak season. With this expansion, the company hopes to keep their seasonal workers and take part in cross-training employees.At the meeting was Sweetwater City Manager Eddie Brown, who stated that he was in favor of the proposal. While two of the members were not in attendance at the meeting--Kyle Lawrence and Bill Johnson, all of the board members were in favor of the deal. After a brief, closed executive session meeting, approval was given. The contract is subject to legal review and approval by the City Commission, which was given during their meeting on Tuesday morning, April 10.In addition, the February 2012 financial statements were briefly reviewed and approved, with a significant update that unemployment in Nolan County was reported under 6%--lower than both the state and national averages.The minutes from the March 2012 meeting were approved, along with the payment of accounts payable.Kirstin Smith, SEED's Asst. Marketing/Admin. Director, gave her monthly update, noting that Senior Interview Day has been scheduled for April 24 and 25. Between the Sweetwater and Roscoe schools, 119 seniors are anticipated to be involved. Talks are currently underway with Highland to potentially include their seniors in next year's Interview Day.Regarding the trade show booth, Smith noted that a deposit has been made and the booth is currently in production. Costs are falling within budget and within the next two weeks, the project should hopefully be completed.The Executive Director's monthly update was then given by Becker, who offered praise to Smith for her work on the trade show booth and gave brief reports on a number of matters.Updated appraisal prices for the Business Park were given, following last month's decision by the board to examine similar properties and their prices. The money amount is needed in order to inform interested clients.Becker also updated the board on lighting at the industrial area. After comparing the recommendations from Oncor and board member Billy Whisenant, he recommended going to work with Oncor to get bids for the two phases of the lighting project.The bids would be brought back to the board for approval, and eight poles would be used in the lighting set-up. In addition, working with Oncor would allow for credit to be received on the project. The board praised Whisenant's diligence in regards to his electrical work and lighting for the Business Park.He also noted that a meeting between SEED, Buzzi Unicem and Texas Tech University would be taking place regarding their wind turbine project. Additionally, Becker noted that he had an initial visit with a potential prospect and more information would be presented at a later date.Local businesses were reported as doing well, with one company expanding. Fifteen workers were recently hired at Georgia Pacific, while USG continues their hiring process as an increase in business has occurred.