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By BARBARA FULENWIDER
Fort Bend Independent
Missouri City Mayor Allen Owen told his audience of more than 300 guests that giving his annual state of the city address this year was a “milestone” because the event was being held in Missouri City for the first time at the recently completed City Centre in Quail Valley.
He then went on to say that Rice University recently named Missouri City as one of the most diverse cities in the region. “Diversity has become a very important part of our community,” he said, and added that the strategic proximity and a highly educated workforce continually attract new businesses.
Because the city’s goal has been to attract businesses and lower homeowner property taxes, Owen said that over the past five years Missouri City has had a double digit increase in commercial growth and that development is taking place city wide, not just in certain areas.
“Companies choosing to break new business ground here,” Owen said, include Niagara Bottling, Southwest Electronic Energy, Warren Alloy, Bimbo Bakeries, CNC Manufacturing and they have all located in Lakeview Business Park.
“Niagara Bottling,” Owen said, “is the nation’s second largest water bottling firm. It has started production in its 356,000 square-foot plant and will soon install a second line, with a third to be added in 2014.”
Warren Alloy is a major supplier of stainless steel pipe, fittings and flanges and is operating out of its 156,00-square-foot building. In 2014 its parent company, Allied Fittings Group, plans to build a 250,000-square-foot distribution facility in Lakeview.
Southwest Electronic Energy designs and manufactures lithium-ion battery packs in its 62,500-square-foot facility in Lakeview Business Park, and Bimbo Bakeries, owner of Mrs. Baird Bread and other bakery brands, is building a 20,000-square-foot facility and will distribute products throughout the Houston area.
CNC Manufacturing is to start construction on its 72,000-square-foot high automated computerized machine shop late in the second quarter of this year and plans to occupy the space by the first quarter of 2014. Owen also said that the Missouri City staff is currently working with a food manufacturer about buying 20 acres in Lakeview to build a 250,000-square-foot facility.
While the Lakeview Business Park continues to fill up with businesses so does the South Gessner Road business corridor. In the Beltway Crossing Complex, Owen said, Ben E. Keith Foods is close to completing its 450,000-square-foot facility that will be the company’s base for Gulf Coast distributions of hot and cold food products to restaurants, convenience stores and companies that prepare food.
Ben E. Keith will open in June with its current 250 employees and will grow that. “They are and will be the city’s largest employer.” The mayor noted that “Ben E. Keith trucks say ‘Missouri City, Texas’ on the bottom, so thank you.”
Then he talked about Twin Star Packaging, the company that packages trays of Frito-Lay products. They have built two more buildings, and American Tire is leasing space also.
Fort Bend Brewing Co. is the first craft brewery to open in Missouri City. Their product is sold in grocery stores, restaurants and around town. You can also take a tour of the brewery on the second and fourth Saturdays of every month.
The mayor also noted that Twin Star Bakery is cooking up sweet treats in its 276,000-square-foot bakery and distribution center. Stream Realty Group, which originally built two buildings in the complex and leased them to Charming Charlie’s and Professional Packaging, recently built two more. American Tire Distributors leased one and Frank’s Supply, an automotive parts distributor leased the other.
Stream Realty is looking at buying another 15 acres on which to build two more buildings, Owen said.
Bearden Development, which built the office/warehouse buildings on Stafford Road at Pike Road, has announced they will build two new warehouses of about 25,000 square feet each. Trammel Crow, the developer of Lakeview Business Park, also plans to build two new warehouses. One would be about 95,000 square feet and the other 150,000.
Owen said Missouri City now has a second Wal-Mart near Fort Bend Parkway and a Dunkin Donuts at Sienna Parkway and Hwy. 6. There is also a new Raising Cane’s at Murphy Road and Hwy. 6 and a second hotel, Hampton Inn, is to open at Colonial Lake Drive and Hwy. 6.
“What all of this means for Missouri City is over $500 million worth of new business to the city and over 1,500 new jobs. Companies like Ben E. Keith and Niagara have held employment workshops and seminars here where they’ve hired local people.
“We will have a daily workforce that will actually work in the city. When we talk to restaurants about coming into our city they want people all day long, so with a workforce of some 1,500 people we can now talk about how many people we have who are going somewhere else to eat,” the mayor said.
Owen also said there will be an ongoing dialogue with the city’s business people every second Thursday of each month. On June 13th he said the group will tour the Port of Houston and on June 28th Houston Community College personnel will give a presentation and on Aug. 15, the new Fort Bend ISD Superintendent Charles Dupre will talk about his “first three months on the job.”
The mayor also noted that next year the city will “have a significant bond issue on the ballot for necessary improvements throughout the city.” He said the bond exploratory committee made up of residents from all over the community is deciding what the bonds will pay for.
“There are now $27 million authorized in bonds that will be used for drainage projects citywide. The bond issue next year will build on previous referendums and benefit the city over the next decade,” he said.
He then thanked Bob Graf, the economic development director of Missouri City who got the ball rolling and who is retiring at the end of June. “You’ve worked with half of the people in this room and the school district, the water district, the county. It was your leadership that has directed us and guided us through all that growth,” Owen told Graf.
The mayor noted that the city’s $50 million wastewater and fresh water treatment plant is up and running. “This program started 12 years ago and we now have it in place and it holds 100 million gallons of water. There were 40 different partners in this.
“We have so many MUDS (municipal utility districts) that I jokingly call Missouri City the MUD capital of the world but it took all the MUDs, the county and FBISD working together” to make the plan a reality.
He then went on to talk about mobility and how he will continue to work to get a commuter rail line to his town, how the esplanades along Hwy. 6 may not be liked by motorists but are necessary for safety, how much the public likes the blinking yellow lights that are turn signals and noted that Missouri City and Stafford now share a new and larger animal shelter.
“Our main priority are our citizens and our community partnership,” Owen said.