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Victoria College expansions, Invista topics of economic meeting

By ALLISON MILES
Nov. 14, 2013 at 5:14 a.m.

Tom Butler

Passing the gavel

Dennis Patillo, board chairman of the Victoria Economic Development Corp., on Thursday announced Thomas Schmidt as his successor.

The announcement, which came with a round of "Happy Birthday" for Schmidt, took place during the development corporation's annual meeting.

Patillo maintains his role through the end of the year, while Schmidt's two-year term kicks off Jan. 1.

Did you know ... ?

• For 2013, the Victoria Economic Development Corp. anticipates about $4.5 million in new tax revenue for Victoria from projects the corporation helped during the past 10 years, Dale Fowler, the organization's president, said Thursday.

• That's an approximately 21 percent increase over last year, he said, noting some projects that went into place years ago began rolling off tax abatements.

• Through the past 10 years, he said, local governments have received about $18.4 million in new ad valorem tax revenues.

What started as Victoria College's Emerging Technology Center, morphed into the Emerging Technology Complex, said Tom Butler, the college's president. And with that change, one thing held true.

"As we moved from center to complex, it's gotten more complex," he said with a smile.

Butler spoke Thursday at the Victoria Economic Development Corp.'s annual membership meeting, updating the approximately 100 attendees on the college's incoming addition.

Ground broke in July for the complex, which sits near the intersection of Lone Tree Road and Loop 463. And, while plans don't call for a finished project and occupied buildings until spring 2015, progress is underway.

The foundation is already in place for the site's industrial training center, he said, while the foundation should be poured for the conference and education center by Thanksgiving.

Then comes a section of the parking lot to assist construction crews in getting in and out.

"We are moving right along," Butler said.

The finished project will boast two buildings that include not only meeting and conference space available to the public but also a training center with classrooms and bays, which offer hands-on learning.

Other projects in the works include an expansion at the college's Gonzales center, which will offer training in welding, electrical and heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

A customized training academy is also planned where the college would evaluate independent companies' training needs and put together a curriculum geared specifically toward the companies.

An expanded welding program, new dual-credit opportunities and an aggressive advertising campaign are also in the college's future, he noted, as are plans to encourage more students involved in the adult basic education GED preparation program to continue on toward college degrees.

"We are getting a lot of interest in this program, and I think we're going to see a lot of student success there," he said.

Also during the meeting, Paul Hughes, Invista's director of core intermediates, offered a company update.

The Victoria site employs about 700 people, he said, while between 400 and 800 contractors enter through the gates daily.

Invista is an independently-managed, wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Industries, he said, which maintains about $115 billion in revenue. The organization's vision for the future is to double its earnings about every six years.

He noted Invista's commitment to safety and philanthropic efforts and said Invista maintains a companywide goal of reducing energy use by 20 percent by the year 2020.

In September, Invista announced plans to potentially add a $500 million unit to its Victoria plant, but Amy Hodges, the company's regional public affairs manager, said the company does not plan to make a final decision until 2014's first quarter.

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