UPDATE 12/17/14: The San Marcos City Council approved the economic development incentive agreement, 7-0, without discussion during its regular meeting Tuesday. The Hays County Commissioners Court is expected to consider granting a similar grant program to the company during the court’s first session in January.
by BRAD ROLLINS
Economic development officials are courting an oilfield pipe and rigging manufacturer to fill the empty, sprawling former Butler Manufacturing building near San Marcos’ northern gateway on Interstate 35.
Under a deal the San Marcos City Council will consider this evening, the prospective employer would commit to hiring 140 people by the end of 2016 and at least 70 additional workers each year until it reaches a payroll of 350. If the company meets and maintains its employment targets, the city would reimburse 80 percent of property tax revenue it collects on increased valuations of the former Butler property resulting from the company’s capital investment and inventory. The reimbursements would be made in the form of ten annual grants beginning in 2017.
The agreement itself — crafted under Chapter 380 of the Texas Local Government Code — has not yet been made public, but a memorandum distributed by the city manager’s office to city council members outlines the basic shape of negotiations with the company, organized locally as United Weld Operations LLC:
Butler Manufacturing, which produced components for prefabricated steel buildings, was once a key element of the San Marcos’ manufacturing base, but slid into oblivion in recent years. Its Melbourne, Australia-based parent company, BlueScope Steel, laid off 65 of about 116 employees in October 2011 before closing the San Marcos plant entirely in December 2013 as it consolidated its North American manufacturing operations.
The 221,500-square-foot building on 42.6 acres has been on the market since April. It was not immediately known if United Weld Operations LLC — or one of its affiliates — has the property under contract to purchase; it was still listed for sale this morning at $11,075,000 by commercial real estate brokerage firm CBRE Group.
Likewise, limited substantive information was available overnight on United Weld Operations LLC, which was organized in Texas on Dec. 5, less than two weeks ago. Classified as a foreign limited liability corporation, United Weld Operations LLC is managed by a similarly named limited partnership, United Weld Holdings LP, which lists a Baton Rouge, La. address in its filings with the Texas Secretary of State.
The registered agent for both companies is recorded as a David S. Chapman Sr. of Spicewood.