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Courtesy image/Holt Cat

Commissioners, Holt Cat in talks of new site

Profile image for By Bj Lewis and Karina Ramírez / Staff Writers
By Bj Lewis and Karina Ramírez / Staff Writers

Denton County commissioners are in talks with Holt Caterpillar about placing a new site in Denton County.

While the facility would provide a number of jobs and a tax boon to the city of Little Elm, commissioners are mulling the five-year, 50 percent tax abatement proposal Holt Cat representatives are asking for to move the project along.

“They are a fine company and I am delighted they’re interested in developing in Denton County. Certainly that 380 corridor needs business development to take the financial impact of the property taxes off the homeowners,” said County Judge Mary Horn. “But I have a longstanding position of being generally opposed to tax abatements.”

The town of Little Elm has approved an identical abatement agreement for the site which will be located at the southeast corner of FM 1385 and U.S. Highway 380.

The initial phase of the project will use about 25 acres of the 42-acre property. A new 50,000-square-foot dealership and associated support buildings will be constructed along with site improvements made to the property including signal improvements, a deceleration lane on U.S. Highway 380, wastewater extension, water extension and sidewalk improvements.

Holt Cat officials told commissioners the site will add an initial capital investment of $11.5 million and bring in anticipated taxable annual sales of $28 million.

Holt Cat is the authorized Caterpillar dealer for 118 counties in South, Central, North and East Texas. The company sells, services and rents Cat equipment, engines and generators for construction, mining, industrial, petroleum and agricultural applications.

Joseph Willrich of BEFCO Engineering Inc., the civil engineer on the project, told commissioners the new facility will be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or LEED certified. Just last month, the company opened a 24,000-square-foot LEED silver-certified facility in Laredo, according to Holt Cat’s website.

Willrich said Holt Cat is also considering creating a satellite location in the Sanger area.

Jennette Killingsworth, executive director of the Little Elm Economic Development Corporation, told commissioners that the benefits of having Holt Cat in Little Elm will increase current budget and sales taxes by approximately 10 to 15 percent and create high-paying jobs in the area.

County Commissioner Hugh Coleman said more employment opportunities were needed in the northern part of the Denton County.

Holt Cat has more than 400 employees in the North Texas area. The Little Elm site is expected to add another 40 full-time and permanent positions.

“These would be high-paying, blue-collar jobs,” Michael Puryear, general counsel of the Holt Companies from San Antonio, told commissioners on Tuesday.

When contacted following the meeting, neither Killingsworth or Holt officials would comment further.

Headquartered in Peoria, Ill., Holt is a family-owned business dating back to the mid-1880s when Benjamin Holt produced his first horse-drawn, link-belt combined harvester in California, according to the company’s website.

If approved, Holt Cat officials expect to open for business by the end of 2014, officials said.

Precinct 4 Commissioner Bobbie Mitchell said one of her dreams is to have enough businesses in Denton County for all of its residents who want to work and make a living for their families.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Hugh Coleman dovetailed what Mitchell had to say.

“We need to encourage this type of development. We just don’t want to be a bedroom community for Dallas,” Coleman said. “We need to develop economically so we can stand on our own two feet. The more jobs created in Denton County, the less traffic we have with people commuting to Dallas. And these are the kind of jobs we want: high-paying technical, blue-collar jobs.”

BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjlewisDRC.

KARINA RAMÍREZ can be reached at 940-566-6878 and via Twitter at @KarinaFRamirez.