EDC approves incentive package for Higginbotham
By MIKE EDDLEMAN
The Liberty Hill Economic Development Corporation (EDC) and City Council have welcomed Higginbotham Brothers – a new business focused on hardware, lumber and building materials – to town with an incentive package intended to help the company settle in faster.
“There are a lot of extraordinary circumstances going on in the economy right now,” said EDC Interim Executive Director Matt Powell. “There are unprecedented things going on with Paycheck Protection Plans and Williamson County grants and all this stuff. I think the general climate right now is wanting to support small businesses. I’m not saying they were going to delay their plans, but I saw that as a definite possibility because if I were in their shoes that’s what I’d be looking at. Through this investment we wanted to support them and encourage them to build, get open and hire as many people as possible.”
Mayor Rick Hall indicated that Higginbotham Brothers had reached out to him and he felt a package would make sense.
“I was actually contacted initially by the company,” Hall said. “I felt like this was a good incentive package for the EDC. I contacted EDC to see if they would be interested in doing this and they were and took off with it.”
The incentive package, passed unanimously by both the EDC and Council, grants the company $2,000 for each full-time equivalent position certified on Jan. 1 of each of the next three years, with a cap for each year. Part-time employees can be combined to create up to five full-time equivalents.
The maximum incentive over three years is $120,000, but is capped the first year at $50,000, then at 33 percent of the sales tax generated in the November 2020 to October 2021 sales tax year, and 25 percent of the sales tax generated from the same time period.
Even though construction had begun, Powell said an incentive package made sense to try and accelerate the project.
“I didn’t want them to say with all this COVID stuff let’s push this back a year,” Powell said. “They were good with that and said they would push forward and aim to open by the end of the year. One of my goals was to insure they moved forward and opened this year and they were really open to that. This was a nice package, but fairly conservative, and everyone at the table thought it was reasonable.”
Powell said he was involved in discussions immediately after being named interim Executive Director for the EDC in early May, meeting with Higginbotham’s representatives, EDC Board President Johnny Johnston and Mayor Rick Hall.
Higginbotham Brothers, which currently operates 41 stores in Texas and Oklahoma, is investing about $3 million and plans to create 12 full-time equivalent positions. The store is being built on the north side of SH 29, just east of the Meridell Achievement Center.
“We are excited to be coming to Liberty Hill. It has been a long time coming,” said company Chief Financial Officer Jace Mattinson. “Higginbotham’s has a very unique and rich history. The company was founded in 1881 so for starters it is one of the oldest companies and brands in Texas. Liberty Hill will be our first location in Central Texas.”
He said the incentive was a welcome offering from the City as they move toward completing their facility.
“There aren’t words for how much it means to us,” Mattinson said. “Liberty Hill is a great community with great leadership and we are excited to be here and help fuel the growth in the area.”
The agreement does provide protection for the City, stipulating that if at any time before Jan. 1, 2023, Higginbotham Brothers fails to maintain 12 FTE’s at the Liberty Hill location the agreement is canceled and Higginbotham Brothers will repay all incentive payments in full.
Final EDC grants awarded
After awarding nine COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grants at its June 3 meeting for a total of $43,500, the EDC awarded the remainder of the $100,000 set aside for the program at its June 17 meeting.
Four businesses that had previously applied but were held up due to application issues or other questions were approved. Vizionz Hair Salon, Liberty Hill Pediatrics, and Happy Trails Learning Center were each granted the maximum $5,000 once the questions had been answered.
Hell or High Water Brewing, which operates under two different companies, requested a grant under the restaurant company and another under the brewery, and was awarded $4,250 for each.
New applicants awarded grants were Indigo Salon, Texas Taco Kitchen, Elena’s Bar and Grill, HK Computers, Davis Automotive, and Country Girl Consignment at $5,000 each, and Cut-N-Edge Salon at $3,000.