ODC Gives Extension
The Odessa Development Corp. board voted to give two companies who hadn’t met the stipulations in their ODC contracts another year to meet employment requirements. While they will have payments suspended from ODC, Odessa Spring, Brake & Axle and Falcon International will get a second chance.
The board went off the recommendation of its compliance committee and opted not to cancel Odessa Spring, Brake & Axle’s contract, despite the company only employing 14 of a required 21 people. It has yet to receive any payments off its $50,000 grant issued in 2008. The money was to go toward a fire door that is part of a $300,000 expansion.
Falcon has only supplied five out of 25 required jobs. But the armament and coating company says it has lost out on government contracts, but it has plans to pick more up in the near future.
Falcon has twice received payments, for a total of $692,400, but the company will have to meet employment requirements to get the rest of its $1.7 million five-year contract.
Also at the meeting, Mike George, chief executive officer of the Odessa Chamber of Commerce, said the La Entrada al Pacifico Rural Rail District will seek a new study to be conducted on the feasibility of a rail line connecting Odessa to Seagraves, where it could meet lines heading north toward Lubbock and beyond. Though a 2004 study showed that the line would only have 30 percent of the traffic needed to justify it, officials feel that coal being transported from Wyoming to Summit Power Group Inc.’s planned coal gasification plant in Penwell could change that.
A new rail line would help bring competition in freight rates, which could lure new manufacturing to Odessa, George said.
"We’re hoping that study will be done," he said, "and it will bring significant revenue."
Board member Tom McMinn didn’t attend the meeting.
Meanwhile, James Beauchamp, executive director of the Midland-Odessa Transportation Alliance, said his organization is searching for new sources of revenue to widen Highway 349 to four lanes between Midland and Lamesa. Depending on how extensive the project is, he said it could cost between $50 million and $100 million.
Among the possibilities is seeking funds from additional federal stimulus money, he said.
"There is a lot of opposition to a second round of stimulus," he said. "But if there is going to be another opportunity, and those transportation dollars are going to be spent throughout the state…we just want to make sure we have a qualified project."
Beauchamp said bids were approved recently on construction for an overpass on the recently opened Highway 349 reliever route at Highway 158, and construction is expected to start next month.