MDD eyes Rockdale business prospects

Split vote approves economic development contract with Orasi consulting group

The Rockdale Municipal Development District board (MDD), meeting in regular session Thursday, endorsed a request for startup funds submitted by a new business.

Kara Clore, MDD manager, said the final decision on the $15,000 request by “Project Bond” is on the city council agenda for Monday.

The company, which processes and manufactures plastic, submitted an application indicating it would immediately provide five jobs.

Clore said an economic survey indicated up to 60 additional direct and indirect jobs could be created over the next decade.

She said Project Bond is currently renting a building but plans to build.

FINALIST—She reported that Rockdale is also apparently a finalist for another company wanting to relocate.

Not much information is forthcoming on the business, at least for public consumption. Clore said its jobs are “highly desirable and technical in nature.”

She said the company has narrowed down the list of locations where it might relocate and “Rockdale is on that list.”

SPLIT VOTE—In a discussion that carried over to a second session Monday, directors voted 4-1 to hire an economic development firm for consulting services and, by the same vote, selected Orasi Development as that firm.

In each ballot, Gary Griesbach, Collier Perry, Bobby Pelzel and Elaine Gerren voted in favor and Georgia Richards against.

Rockdale’s tourism board is currently working on a marketing plan and calendar with Orasi.

GRANTS—Directors were given progress reports to already-awarded facade improvement grants.

The board gave Miller-Starnes Chevrolet Buick 45 days to begin its project or re-apply for facade improvement funds.

Work has begun, and in some cases completed, by the other four grant recipients, Place of Hope Pregnancy Center, Cedar Shop, Corona’s Mexican Restaurant and Eagle Automotive.

Directors were advised the MDD should know this month the fate of TxDOT grants for sidewalk, lighting and other improvements downtown.

Clore said the total grant amount is $3,247,000 with a local share of $746,810.

In other business, the MDD:

• Gave initial approval to a rental assistance program, providing new business owners with grants based upon their monthly rent. Maximum total subsidy per business would be $7,500.

• Heard that the new Hunters Chase apartment construction is moving into the electrical phase and a ribbon cutting will be scheduled this month.

• Okayed a 2013-2014 budget of $321,360.

• Heard an economic development consultant presentation by the Mike Barnes Group.

• Decided to set the fourth Thursday of each month as MDD board meeting date.

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