Victoria College receives land for tech center

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

April 3, 2012 at 8:01 p.m.
Updated April 2, 2012 at 11:03 p.m.

Two Caterpillar spin-off projects - a transportation company and a Victoria College technology center - received vital approval from Victoria City Council on Tuesday.

In anticipation of Victoria College's bond passing the ballot, the council unanimously approved a 10 acre transfer of land to the college from its second business park development project on Lone Tree Road. In the transfer contract, the college is required to invest at least $15 million in the property to establish an emerging technology center.

Victoria College Board President Ron Walker said the vote was about more than land.

"It was about the opportunity it will provide citizens of this community to find a job and get a job," Walker said.

Construction must begin within 18 months.

If the college's bond does not pass and it cannot uphold the contract, the land would immediately revert to the city, City Attorney Thomas Gwosdz said.

The property will be on the corner of the new business park, facing Caterpillar's front door, Mayor Will Armstrong said. In addition to this project, Armstrong said he anticipates passing resolutions to fund an internal street and utilities to the business park.

Councilman Tom Halepaska said the college and its ability to train people was one of the top three reasons Caterpillar came to Victoria.

He said the transfer "is an infrastructure project."

"It's probably more valuable than anything we could do," Halepaska said. "I think it's a great deal."

Walker said the center is designed to be flexible. While it will be able to train students to work in the chemical and petroleum industries, it will also help train potential Caterpillar employees and future truck drivers.

"We might have one emerging need today and a completely different emerging need three years later," Walker said. "It's designed to be flexible."

The council also passed an ordinance on a 5 to 1 vote granting Keen Transport, Inc., a seven-year, phased-in tax abatement. Councilman Gabriel Soliz upheld his no vote from the first reading and Councilman David Hagan was absent.

Armstrong said he was confident the ordinance would pass.

At estimated peak employment in June 2015, Keen expects to fill 25 full-time jobs.

Construction is set to begin in May on nearly 30 acres of farm land.

Keen estimates its total value eligible for abatement of $14.65 million, according to its tax abatement application.

A taxable investment between $8 million and $15.99 million starts at 90 percent its first year and decreases annually until the abatement ends its eighth year.

According to the tax abatement application, Keen estimates generating $132 million in corporate annual sales and $8 million in local annual sales.



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