More often than not, it takes a village to recruit industry and provide the kind of economic development needed to sustain a community.
Attracting American SpiralWeld Pipe Co. to Paris ranks as Paris Economic Development Corp.’s largest accomplishment to date, with a $70 million to $90 million investment and expectations of 100 future jobs or more.
Executive Director Michael Paris said it took a community effort to attract a company of the caliber of American SpiralWeld.
“That was a huge feat,” Paris said during a recent interview. “We have not had a greenfield project like this since Kimberly-Clark in the ’80s, and it is the first as a 4A entity.”
Paris voters approved a Type A economic development corporation in 1992 to focus primarily on attracting industry. Since its inception, the organization has been successful in attracting several new industries and in retaining jobs for those already here. However, American SpiralWeld brings the first capital investment of its size, and is the first since Kimberly-Clark to build from the ground up.
Paris credited open communication, community involvement and the building of relationships as markers for success.
“American SpiralWeld officials commented on several occasions about how well the community turned out at that first meeting we had in December 2017,” Paris said, referencing a Paris City Council meeting. Paris added it took economic development directors, Paris City Council members, Lamar County commissioners and many business leaders working together to land the major industry.
Since the American SpiralWeld announcement, Paris said a pipeline of prospects has been maintained.
“I would suggest what allowed those things to happen is the work we have done making sure the EDC is transparent and that the City Council is comfortable with what the EDC is doing,” Paris said. “I make sure EDC directors are fully informed; and, that the public is fully informed when the time is right.”
Because most of the property in the Paris Industrial Park on Northwest Loop 286 is now occupied, the economic development group purchased about 150 acres on Southwest Loop 286 between Turner Industries on the east and Kimberly-Clark across the loop on the west. Economic development directors have engaged architectural firms to present three design examples for the board to view.
Paris said he would like to see the new park named the Gene Stallings Business Park, a recommendation the board has taken under advisement.
“I have talked with Coach, and he is humbled and impressed,” Paris said. “I haven’t found anybody that is against it.”
Paris said the park’s name would be a tremendous asset when he goes on the road to talk up Paris, in addition to honoring someone who continues to make huge contributions to this community.
“It would be neat when I am talking with a prospect and I say we have the Gene Stallings Business Park,” Paris said. “It’s going to help me start conversations, and I think it will help me build some relationships.”
After a city-wide vote on the future of Paris Economic Development Corp. in November 2017, Paris said he has witnessed the community come together as a united front.
“I think you can see the PEDC is starting to fulfill the role it was designed to fill as a nonprofit entity,” Paris said.