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Delegation to pitch Denton to Sriracha

Profile image for By Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe / Staff Writer
By Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe / Staff Writer

A Denton delegation will leave Sunday for Southern California, the second group to pitch a Texas location to the makers of Sriracha hot sauce.

Two city employees, a City Council member and a representative from the Denton Chamber of Commerce will meet with officials of Huy Fong Foods, creator of the popular hot sauce, and industry relocation experts in California. Earlier this week, state Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, and state Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, made a high-profile tour of the plant in Irwindale, Calif.

“We’ll put an exclamation point on their pitch,” council member Kevin Roden said Wednesday.

Roden said they’ll let Huy Fong Foods and others in California know what Denton has to offer, particularly as a possible distribution center.

Since Toyota announced its plans to move to Plano, relocation to Texas has become a hot topic, Roden said. He plans a “rally” for the trip at 6 p.m. Friday at Oak Street Drafthouse.

David Tran, owner of Huy Fong, has told the media and Denton city leaders directly that he doesn’t intend to leave the newly built manufacturing plant in Irwindale. Residents nearby have complained about irritating odors from the plant’s chili processing, triggering a preliminary nuisance determination from the Irwindale City Council that has not been resolved.

Roden started a small campaign on Twitter in October and in an open letter on his blog to bring Sriracha to Denton soon after the manufacturer began having legal troubles.

The campaign’s novelty caught the eye of state leaders as well as California and national media outlets.

Because of the hot sauce’s growing popularity, Huy Fong could need to expand as soon as 2017, Roden said.

According to California news outlets, Tran works with one farmer who grows the peppers he needs on about 2,000 acres near the Irwindale plant. Texas agriculture officials are exploring whether the hybrid jalapeno could grow in the Rio Grande Valley. Any Texas manufacturing plant would need to be within a day’s drive from the pepper fields, Roden said.

Brian Daskam, spokesman for Denton Municipal Electric, will be part of the delegation to help explain the utility’s electric capacity and possibilities for natural gas to the hot sauce maker as well as other real estate professionals in California. Also making the trip will be Aimee Bissett, of the city’s economic development office, and Adam Gawarecki, the chamber’s vice president of economic development.

The Denton delegation will be staying in California until Wednesday. Bissett and Gawarecki are setting up visits with property consultants in California who help companies find sites to build or expand, including the RSH Group in Mission Viejo, the Los Angeles office of CBRE and Spectrum Location Solutions in Irvine.

According to city spokeswoman Lindsey Baker, the city’s economic development travel fund, which pays for recruitment and business development activities, will cover travel expenses for Bissett and Roden. DME will cover Daskam’s expenses with money it has set aside for business development. The chamber will pay for Gawarecki’s expenses from its recruitment funds.

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.