Amarillo City Council approves incentives to lure Coast Packing to area (2024)

During its Tuesday meeting, the Amarillo City Council unanimously approved economic incentives to bring Coast Packing to the city. The California-based company specializes in processing animal-based shortening products for commercial restaurants such as Golden Chick, Chicken Express and Popeyes.

Starting in 1922 as a meat packing plant in Vernon, California, a small industrial city just outside of Los Angeles, Coast Packing changed the emphasis of its business to animal shortenings to increase profitability and sustainability. The company turns beef fat into cooking oil used at about 500 restaurants across the country.

Amarillo City Council approves incentives to lure Coast Packing to area (1)

In its second reading, the council approved Ordinance 8026, which approved designating 30 acres near Centerport Boulevard and Folsom Road as TIRZ No. 21 for commercial and industrial abatement.

Also approved by the council was a location incentive agreement between the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) and Coast Packing, conveying the area of TIRZ No. 21 and up to $720,000 for the creation of new jobs for the area to be paid out over 10 years. The land that was conveyed to the company was valued at $1.2 million. An incentive of $12,000 per full-time employee determines the full extent of the economic incentive. Rail site improvement of up to $1 million was also approved.

As a further enhancement to entice Coast Packing to the city, the council agreed to provide an 80% tax abatement on the estimated cost of building the new facility. The expected cost for the new project is $30 million. Initially, there will be 40 full-time jobs, paying an average of $55,000 a year at the facility, which is expected to hire up to 60 new employees over the period of the agreement. Also, the company expects that its new plant will create up to 158 spinoff jobs.

Eric R. Gustafson, chairman and CEO of Coast Packing, spoke about his reasons for bringing his new facility to Amarillo.

Gustafson said his company would work with area meat packers to use for processing beef fat, which incorporates the fat parts of the cow not used for typical meat cuts, and amounts to about 30 to 40 pounds per head.

“This will provide the ability to get more value per head from package to feeder, which will benefit local meat packing facilities,” Gustafson said.

Asked about why he chose Amarillo, Gustafson cited the people as being a defining factor.

“Everyone we have met so far has been fantastic, from the AEDC to other businesses we have spoken to,” Gustafson said. “I remember coming to Amarillo as a kid with my dad, and we just had a great time and I have always remembered it since then.”

Geographically, Gustafson said that a plant in Amarillo helped with its marketing and distribution to many of its customers that are closer to the area. He hopes to have the new facility open in 2025.

He said that while other cities were interested in hosting the new facility, he felt that the city of Amarillo had a keener understanding of the industry and what his company brought to the region.

Chavis Ferguson, vice president of operations for Coast Packing, cited Amarillo's infrastructure as ideal for the new facility.

“The infrastructure really stood out here; it brought a complete package from every direction, whether it be rail or road that we were looking for,” Ferguson said. “The skill of the employees that we are looking for are prominent in the area, as well as a governmental body that wanted to work with us made Amarillo the attractive option.”

Ferguson said that the number of businesses moving to Amarillo also influenced their decision.

“We had zeroed in on Amarillo a while ago as a standout city, and as we looked at some of the new construction, it just reinforced that this was the right decision," Ferguson added.

Kevin Carter, president and CEO of AEDC, spoke about the reasoning behind working on getting this company to Amarillo. He said they had been working with Coastal Packing for about two years to bring the company to the city.

“We liked the fact that they have been in business for a long time,” Carter said. “We were fortunate enough to be on their radar at the time. We have great logistics in Amarillo; we are blessed with great highways and our railyard. Many people do not realize the size of our railyard and the number of employees there.”

Carter said that he expects more than $11 million a year in economic impact to the Amarillo area over the next 20-year period. He also said that what makes this facility attractive is the number of external jobs that it would create to support the facility, creating four jobs for every manufacturing job.

Asked how the AEDC had been able to attract a record number of companies to the area over the past year, Carter said that in 2022, his organization had twice as much as it had in its previous 30-year history.

“I think it’s Amarillo’s time,” Carter said. “There are a lot of companies that want to spend money right now. We are in a prime location and have the culture and work ethic that companies want. We are in the national spotlight and want to capitalize on that.”

Carter also felt that the companies that are moving to Amarillo would also stimulate the quality of life developments within the city as a response.

“As we bring in these kinds of companies and they get closer to opening, I think we will see a rise in development,” Carter said. “Developers will see the number of jobs we add and spend money to capitalize on that.”

Citing the amount of growth in the industry moving to the area, Carter speculates that it puts Amarillo at the forefront in building relationships that will continue to see the area grow and make the city a leader of industry in the nation.

Amarillo City Council approves incentives to lure Coast Packing to area (2024)

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