Wichita Falls (KFDX/KJTL) — The latest expansion of the Wichita Falls Business Park near US Route 287 and Harmon Road could mean a big boost for the city’s economy.
Winfield United, a Land O’Lakes company, broke ground on a new facility on Wednesday, November 9, 2022.
Construction is about to begin on a new 100,000-square-foot facility in the Wichita Falls Business Park. Once complete, the goal is to consolidate five regional operations in Texas and Oklahoma into one facility in Wichita Falls.
The City of Wichita Falls and the Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce were approved by the Wichita Falls City Council in June 2022 to award Winfield United approximately $2.2 million.
On Wednesday, Wichita Falls city officials, Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce members and community leaders gathered at Winfield United’s future grounds to celebrate the facility’s groundbreaking.
Representative of the Governor’s Office. Greg Abbott also attended the proclamation signed by the governor. Abbott is on hand.
Although the incentives were approved only five months ago, Wichita Falls Mayor Stephen Santerana said the city’s investment in the Wichita Falls business park began years ago.
“Look at the money we’ve already invested in this business park,” said Mayor Santerana. “You know, the initial investment a few years ago, now this new road with all the infrastructure, you know, helps bring industry.”
Winfield United is expanding its local facilities, and Wichita Falls makes sense, according to Heath Gholson, the company’s regional manager in Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Kansas.
“It’s going to be great for us from a geographic standpoint,” Golson said.
Wichita Falls is a central location in the four states that Golson manages, but that’s not the only allure of the company’s store in Wichita Falls.
“Not only is it great for us geographically, but the city of Wichita Falls and what the city is about and how passionate they are with Land O’ Lakes and Winfield United for a real alliance,” Golson said.
One of the passions shared by the leadership of Wichita Falls and Land O’Lakes is to invest in the community. For the Mayor of Santellana, first and foremost, contributing to the local economy.
“It’s under construction, $14 million. You know, that’s money going around in our industry,” said Mayor Santrana. “We’re hiring subcontractors and contractors, engineers, architects and people selling materials, and our suppliers will be strengthened.”
According to Gholson, it won’t be long before construction is complete and initial economic growth will be felt in Wichita Falls.
“Expect to actually break ground at the end of the month,” Golson said. “The plan is for next August, so we’re really going to move fast.”
And that’s just the beginning of Wichita Falls. The plant plans to eventually expand the number of employees from eight to 16, with a payroll increase of about $1 million. But adding some jobs is just the beginning.
“Once this building is built, you know, the supplies they have to buy from our local economy, you know, the groceries for the employees, into the payroll there, that means a lot,” Mayor Santerana said. “You know, it’s just the construction that has an initial impact, but then there’s a long-term wide-ranging knock-on effect that happens day in and day out.”
With construction yet to begin, Winfield United’s impact on the Wichita Falls community is already starting to show.
Just hours after the groundbreaking ceremony at the Wichita Falls Business Park, Winfield United officials donated 10 tons of macaroni and cheese to the Wichita Falls Regional Food Bank.
David O’Neil, director of philanthropy at WFAFB, said while all donations would make a difference, a gift of this size could have an impact within a few months.
“This donation is really going to make a difference over Thanksgiving, the holidays and even after that,” O’Neal said.
Not only was this a generous donation, it was a huge boost for WFAFB, all thanks to the Land O’Lakes First Start Program.
“It’s partnered with Feeding America,” Gholson said. “It’s been around for over 12 years. Over the years, they’ve delivered over 6.5 million pounds of fresh produce to food banks across the country.”
So, thanks to the city’s investment in the Wichita Falls Business Park, a healthy ecosystem has been created with businesses investing in Wichita Falls. Mayor Santerana said he hopes this is a catalyst for economic growth in Wichita Falls.
“Winfield here is just another spark to light a flame and you’re going to be able to see more and more industries coming here,” said Mayor Santrana.