(Seguin) -- The city of Seguin has landed another major economic development project. The city council Tuesday approved a deal with Niagara Bottling, LLC that will allow the bottled water company to expand its operations into Seguin. It's an $85 million deal that will bring at least 75 new jobs.
Seguin Economic Development Director Terry Trevino says the facility will be built on land currently owned by the SEDC. It will be a 557,000 square foot facility, that will be located on approximately 30 acres of land at the intersection of Rio Nogales Drive and Eighth Street.
Trevino says lots of work has been done behind the scenes on this project, and Tuesday was the first time that she publicly got to discuss Niagara, and its plans to set up shop in Seguin.
"Niagara is our new partner here in Seguin pending approval by the city of Seguin. We do actually have representatives from Niagara. We have the executive vice president, Mr. Brian Hess here. So I'm going to go ahead and let him tell you about his wonderful company and we're very excited about the opportunity. The package is for the land grant. It is for $85 million of investment and 75 jobs in phase one," said Trevino.
The overall incentive package includes a land donation from the SEDC, and tax abatements from the city and Guadalupe County. Trevino says this project moved quickly, and it took a great deal of teamwork to bring it to fruition. The total incentive package is just shy of a million dollars, but she says the return on the community's investment will be great.
Brian Hess, executive vice president for legal for Niagara Bottling LLC, addresses the Seguin City Council on Tuesday.
"The overall five year period of this total capital investment -- the city, the county, the lateral roads and school district for the $85 million of the two lines that will be started -- and is expected revenues back to our community and back to each of those entities of a little over $6 million in new property tax revenue, net of the tax abatement. So this is even net of that. So we're really excited not only for ourselves, the city, but also (for) the county and the school districts. So it's going to be really good for everybody," said Trevino.
Brian Hess, Niagara's executive vice president of legal, further introduced his company to the council and to the public during Tuesday's special city council meeting. Hess says Niagara is owned by the Peykoff family, and it is the largest family owned and operated beverage supplier in the United States. It's based in Southern California. It supplies single-serve, private label bottled water to grocery stores, club stores, and other retail and wholesale customers in both domestic and interantional markets.
"For those who don't know us, we primarily do private labeled products such as the ones that are sitting in front of you right now. In addition to bottled water, we also produce some flavored beverags, such as Tampico, Sparkling Ice, (and) some other beverages like that, but primarily, we're a bottled water company. One of the things that I do want to point out is that the scope of this project, it starts out wtih two lines and that's what essentially we've promised from an economic development standpoint. It's very important to us that we under promise and over perform. We would never want to come back in front of you and say 'we didn't meet our capital investment requirements or our job requirements,'" said Hess.
In fact, Hess says once they are fully operational, they expect this project to greatly exceed the number of jobs, and the overall capital investment figure put forth in this proposal.
"What we've committed to in terms of the project capital and project jobs, we'd hope that's less than half than what we actually do. I want to point that out because again, you don't build a facility like this for just two bottling lines. You hope that we can contiue to grow. This facility would serve our current customers here in Texas. It's not a 'build it and they will come' type of project. We've got the business here. We just don't have enough production capacity right now. So, this product would be meant to serve right here in Central Texas and throughout the larger region, but that's really the scope of the project and some of what we do," said Hess.
Niagara originally started looking at some other communities in the area, but Hess says they quickly came to realize that Niagara was a right for Seguin, and that Seguin was a right for Niagara.
"I will tell you -- our expansion team has fallen in love with Seguin. We absolutely love it here and for us, our community fit is one of the most important aspects to us. Obviously, you've got to have the infrastructure in place. The location has got to be okay for freight. You've got to have a lot of these technical requirements, but once we get beyond that, it's our job to find community fit and ultimately advocate that community fit, because community fit is hard to put a number on, but a lot of times you know it when you see it and for us, it's very important, because for our culture, one of the most important culture aspects of our company is that we like to be in communities that we love and that love us. When we find a community where there's that kind of -- I mean everybody in this council has been extremely accessible. We've got to meet with people from the public. We've had a tremendous amount of support come our way for this project," said Hess.
Hess says the Peykoff family believes in taking care of its employees, and also taking care of the communities in which Niagara operates. He says that's part of what makes this a great fit for Niagara and for Seguin.
"We want to build a facility that our employees are proud of and the only way to do that is to have a community that's proud of those employees and for us, one of the essential parts of our cutlure is we like to get out and get involved with our community. We certainly make donations to charities. We make donations to our first responders, our fire fighters and our police force, of bottled water local schools, but to us, that's not what really creates fit. What creates fit for us is getting out in our community, adding our own blood, sweat and tears to projects. So whether it's building parks, running mobile medical units, working with back to school committees on getting kids ready for school, we want to be actively involved and we want our team to be actively involved and to me, that's what really creates fit -- that's what creates a situation where your empoyees love where they live, they love where they work and the community loves what they do. That's what we're trying to create here. It's a very important part of our culture and it's a very important part of what the Peykoff family wants us to create," said Hess.
Trevino and Mayor Don Keil both got a little emotional talking about the project. Keil says the term "community fit" was used many times during this process. He says staff and the company worked together to make sure that this was indeed the right fit for all parties involved. Keil says staff did an amazing job to help make this happen in a realitively short amount of time.
"The level of professionalism of our staff, their depth of knowledge is incredible. I sat in that meeting. There were probably 20-30 people maybe in that meeting. I think Niagara always has -- they have a huge number of people they bring with them everywhere, but then I think pretty much every head of every department was there. Everyone was basically asked questions and they answered without hesitation with a great deal of knowledge and with a great deal of expertise. I am as mayor very very proud of them as well. So I'm tearing up too. Thank you as well to Niagara for having the faith and the abilties to want to come and invest in this community. We really really do appreciate everything you've done and all the things hopefully in the future that we can all partner in," said Keil.
Robert Haynes, CEO of Guadalupe Regional Medical Center, also serves as chair of the SEDC Board of Directors. Haynes says this is an exiciting project that will greatly benefit Seguin.
"It is a pleasure to watch Terry and her team work. It's something you want to be part of and I think the board would echo that as well, but to watch this city and the county work together as these deals come to fruition with respect to Niagara. When I first met Brian, he came out of his shell and learned to speak a little bit. This is a great fit for the city in many different ways," said Haynes.
Guadalupe County Judge Kyle Kutscher was also introduced Tuesday as part of the team that helped to make this project happen. The commissioners court is offering a tax abatement to the company. Kutscher says this project proves that local governments can get a lot of things done when they work together.
"I first want to just say thank you to Terry and all the SEDC board. It's been a great pleasure working with her on another project and of course, I want to thank all of the city council, all the city council members, mayor, the city managers, city staff -- we do have a true relationship and partnership between the city and the county. It's something that I know myself and all of the commissioners court cherish and appreciate. It's something we want to work towards to continue. We've been very successful in everything we've done. We've been able to accomplish the things we've been able to accomplish only because we work together as a team. I just want to say thank you for everything that you've done for us and let you know that we'll always be there for you as a city. So thank you again," said Kutscher.
This latest deal is another feather in the cap of the SEDC. The SEDC was created by voters in the mid-1990s to oversee a half-cent sales tax that's collected and used to create and retain jobs in the community. It has done just that it a big way over the years, with a signficant portion of that job growth coming in the last decade. Some major projects have come to Seguin during that time, including the Caterpillar project and the expansion of the Continental plant.
Recently the city's economic development team announced deals for a 75,000 square foot distribution center for Tractor Supply Company. It also announced recently the recruitment of Siro Group USA. The Spanish-based food company is spending $58 million to build a large production facility in Seguin. The company produces snack foods and baked goods, including a number of products you find in Texas, like the Whataburger snacks that are sold in HEB stores. It's expected to generate 200 new jobs for the community. It's also expected to offer a what it calls a Special Employment Center. The Special Employment Center will focus on hiring people with disabilities, who often find themselves without an opportunity to make a living. The Siro facility and the newly announced Niagara Bottling facility will both be located off North Guadalupe Street beyond the Rio Nogales Power Plant, which is also a SEDC project.
Niagara officials say they hope to begin hiring and training new employees soon. Meanwhile, they hope to have construction of the facility completed by early next year.