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Ennis Daily News

City manager notes local growth

City Manager Steve Howerton spoke to the Rotary Club of Ennis Tuesday about growth and development in the city, saying the increasing population will attract more businesses to Ennis.
The population of Ennis is 19,223 and has grown by 3,200 since 2000, Howerton said, noting that this growth has been both manageable and sustainable.
Ellis County is expected to experience major population growth between 2010 and 2011, with the county’s population is expected to double by 2020.
The DFW metropolitan area is second only to Los Angeles for the largest technologically based workforce, he said.
Many industries that have come to Ennis in recent years have been very successful, Howerton said. Of the top 10 industries in Ennis, six have located here in the last nine years. They include Ennis-Suez, CVS Pharmacy, Sterilite Corporation, JTEKT Automotive, National Envelope and Alliance Data Systems. These industries are a large part of the tax base and are major employers. Ennis-Suez employs 18, CVS Pharmacy has 275 employees, Sterilite Corporation has 825 employees on the payroll, JTEKT Automotive employs 200, National Envelope has nearly 300 employees and Alliance Data Systems is in the process of employing nearly 550 people.
Howerton also presented the club with an economic update on the city. Currently, there are eight significant projects in development. These projects have excellent corporate reputations and pay their employees well, he said. This is great for Ennis because its residents will be well taken care of by their employers, Howerton said.
Ennis has an aggressive tax abatement system that entices companies to locate within the city. Tax abatements allow industries to develop here without being charged local taxes for a fixed period of time. As these abatements expire, Ennis sees an increase in tax revenue from these industries. Ennis must compete with other cities to get businesses, so it is important for Ennis to be enthusiastic and aggressive in getting companies to locate here, he said.
Right now, the cumulative industrial tax abatements amount to more than $600 million. The tax abatement system is one reason for success in getting businesses to move here, Howerton said.
He pointed to healtchare as an example of an industrial success story in Ennis.
“Healthcare is an economic catalyst and is very good for the community,” he said.
Ennis Regional Medical Center was approved for construction in 2005, being the first municipally owned hospital built in Texas in the last 20 years.
The hospital opened in July 2007 and has 177 employees. The payroll is $9.3 million and there are 36 physicians working there. In five years, Ennis Regional Medical Center will have at least 250 employees, a $12 million payroll and 50 or more physicians working in the hospital. By the end of 2008, the hospital will have served more than 30,000 patients.
There has also been a large amount of commercial development in Ennis in recent years. Since October 2007, a bank, motel and restaurant as well as five other projects have been completed. There is a bank, two motels, a restaurant and two other projects currently in progress. The value of these projects is $23 million, Howerton said.
“There is a tremendous amount of commercial activity in Ennis,” he said.
Howerton also spoke about residential development. He said 39 single family units were permitted from January through September of this year. The total permit value is about $9.19 million, with the average permit value being $235,615. The price has gone up because good quality homes are being constructed, he said.
The economic future of Ennis will be both positively and negatively affected by the national economy. Although, Howerton said, “Our economy has performed very well despite the state of the national economy.”
In September, national sales declined by 1.2 percent, and national industrial production declined by 2 percent. This is the largest decline since 1974. However, taxable sales in Ennis were up 20.59 percent in August, 39.79 percent in September and 18.07 percent in October. This could be due to people not traveling as much and thus spending more money locally, Howerton said.
Howerton also spoke about upcoming city projects, including a new airport. The Ennis Municipal Airport was built in 1965 and does not meet current FAA safety standards, according to Howerton.
Howerton said there is a lot of development going on in Ennis. “There are lots of folks who want to do business here,” he said. “Things are really looking great for Ennis.”
The Rotary Club of Ennis meets Tuesday at noon at the Ennis Country Club.

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Posted by on Oct 29 2008. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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