It’s only in retrospect that we can see who really had vision.
Steve Barksdale, a former Chairman at Biotech Manufacturing Center, addressed the Athens Kiwanis Club on Tuesday, giving a history lesson about the center and projecting its future impact. In December, the heads of economic development for Louisiana Tech University and Louisiana State University toured the facility.
“The first thing they said resonated in my ears for a long time,” Barksdale said. “I asked point-blank what they thought. They said, ‘Can’t believe the vision a town this small has had in doing this project. This is unbelievable.’”
Barksdale said the Biotech grew out of seeds planted by Athens leaders searching for answers when the city lost a major manufacturer that employed about 1,200 people in the late 1980s.
“The forefathers of this town began to research and ask, ‘How can we come out of this? How can we survive,’” Barksdale said.
City leaders contacted Texas A&M University and the Texas Engineering Extension Department. The city commissioned a feasibility study to get ideas about what the city needed to grow.
“In 1990, they discovered that we had some neat characteristics already within our city,” Barksdale said. “We had Argon Medical and opportunities for some more medical devices.”
When the Athens Industrial Park was created, it provided a catalyst for new businesses.
“We’ve had many things come into the Industrial Park,” Barksdale said. “The place where the Biotech Manufacturing Center is located was really designed to be a fishing-lure bag manufacturing company. That company was the start of Dallas Manufacturing.”
Soon, a medical device serialization plant was located in the park, which opened the door for more medical-device-related businesses.
“A sterilization company in the medical device industry is a very important facet,” Barksdale.
BMC fits into the mix as a locally-owned, non-profit facility that helps incubator companies in the medical field get new products to market. Barksdale describes an incubator company as one with some great ideas that needs some help in getting its product to the market.
With the support of local leaders, BMC opened its doors in 2005. Biotech, which now has 22 employees, can help with manufacturing, building prototypes and aiding clients in acquiring funding for their projects.
“We can try to get you funding by using some of the contacts we’ve gotten through the state and through other entities, and we can get you there quicker than you can do it on your own,” Barksdale said.
It’s only in retrospect that we can see who really had vision.
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Fighting for life
Family and friends have rallied around 20-year old Aaron Jenkins.
Three weeks ago Jenkins, a Mabank resident and former Trinity Valley Community College student, was diagnosed with liver cancer.
Aaron's Aunt Sheila Guill said, “He's pretty sick, but Aaron has a high pain tolerance and doesn't complain.”
Lake Palestine, Athens above levels, CCL close
Lakes Athens and Palestine are above their normal levels, while Cedar Creek Lake to the west still needs a good downpour to close the gap.
On Monday, when the average Texas lake stood at just 64.3 percent of full. Lake Athens had a reading of 440.06 feet, just above its average.
Three arrested for drugs
Drug offenses led to three Athens Police Department arrests over the weekend according to reports.
The first incident on Friday night resulted in the arrest of Joshua Paul Rogers, 25, for evading arrest and possession of a controlled substance. Rogers remained in custody on Monday, with bond set at $9,000 on the two charges.
County unemployment edges upward
Henderson County unemployment edged upward in January, falling between the state and national rates.
The January Texas Workforce Commission Report, issued on Friday, gave Henderson County a 6.1 percent reading, after a 6.0 percent rate in December. The national unemployment figure was 7.1 percent, while Texas enjoyed its lowest mark since 2008, 5.7 percent.
O’KEEFFE coming to Malakoff, April 12
Carolyn Wickwire will star in the one-woman play O’Keeffe! by Lucinda McDermott, presented by the Greater Malakoff Area Garden Club and the Malakoff Historical Society in partnership with Flower and Bone Productions, directed by Ouida White.
Color run coming to Athens
Have you been seeing those pictures on the internet of people in wild costumes, running through clouds of neon pink, blue, purple, and green and coming out looking like a rainbow?
If you have, you’ve been looking at the hottest thing to hit the walking and running world – the color run. And it’s coming to Athens on March 22 to benefit Hope Springs Water and celebrate International World Water Day.
AISD students honored for reading challenge
To get kids excited about reading and encourage more adults to spend time reading with their children, the National Education Association launched the first NEA's Read Across America day in 1998.
On March 3, NEA's Read Across America marked 17 years of celebrating reading and the birthday of Dr. Seuss.
Athens Independent School District participated in the event, but added a twist to encourage students to read more often.
The minimum standard for living
The average minimum wage worker renting a living space in Henderson County will spend more than 30 percent of their monthly income on their home.
The National Low-Income Housing Coalition reports Henderson County renters would have to work 85 hours at minimum wage for a two bedroom apartment. Of the six counties in the 5th Congressional District, Henderson ranks second, behind Dallas, for the most hours required.
Chandler, BMC to settle contract
Since the beginning of the year, Chandler city officials and leaders of the Brownsboro-Murchison-Chandler Youth Foundation have worked to finalize an agreement on use of the facilities at Winchester Park.
County preparing to address roads
With hundreds of miles of pavement to deal with, three Henderson County Road and Bridge Precincts may soon be getting a tool to help them keep track of the tasks involved.
The Henderson County Information Technology Committee discussed on Wednesday whether to acquire Precinct Tracker software and will present its findings to Commissioners Court.
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