Athens Review, Athens, Texas

February 19, 2013

AEDC goes California dreamin’

Malone wraps up trip out west that set sights on luring businesses to Athens

Rich Flowers
The Athens Review

Athens — California businesses sinking in state taxes and regulation are an attractive target for the Athens Economic Development Corporation.

AEDC President and CEO Brian Malone completed a trip to the Golden State last week where he met with officials of California companies that might want to expand or relocate to the Lone Star State.

Malone said the visit gave him a chance to follow up on some of the seeds sown in a trip last October.

“We’re trying to see and quantify what is a true prospect and what is not,” Malone said. “We have a couple that are very serious, and we have some scheduled trips for them to come in and look at Athens,” Malone said.

Malone thinks Athens has a lot to offer with its work force and relatively low cost of living.

“We’re tax-friendly and business-friendly,” Malone said. “We’re very fortunate that Texas has had a good economy for the past several years.”

Malone said the AEDC is being realistic about the kinds of businesses it approaches.

A food processing plant might not be a good match, Malone said, but a company that deals in medical manufacturing could be ideal because of the successful medical businesses already in business in the city.

“Some of the businesses have highly-specialized buildings that would not be easy to duplicate, while others might be simple,” Malone said.

Some companies are interested in expanding their business by keeping their California base, but adding a Texas location, Malone said. That was the case of Thrillworks, Inc., which makes items including climbing walls, zip lines, jumper systems and adventure products. The company operates  its Athens location under the name Extreme Engineering.

Although the competition for the California businesses is intense, Malone is pleased to present Athens’ case.

“We’re going to try to look for those advantages when we can,” Malone said. “Obviously, California is very fertile ground for business recruitment. We’re falling over other cities when we’re out there.”

The California companies Malone visited range in size from about 20 to 200 employees.