Athens Review, Athens, Texas

November 13, 2012

Goals new job creation, more payroll

City approves AEDC incentive package for Champion Home Builders

Rich Flowers
The Athens Review

ATHENS — After several weeks of discussion, the Athens City Council approved an Athens Economic Development Corporation incentive package for Champion Home Builders.

The total value of the package is $101,500, which includes $24,000 for capital investment, and the remainder for job creation.

In exchange, Champion will expend over $900,000 in renovations to its Athens Park Homes facility. The company will expand its work force, with 43 new jobs created over a 2-year period

AEDC President/CEO Brian Malone estimates that the new jobs will create more than $1.2 million in new payroll in Athens. An impact analysis shows that the project will have a 21-percent annual return on the AEDC investment, and the total amount should be returned within 4.8 years.

Champion officials informed the AEDC that the capital improvements to the plant include $290,000 to the building and $645,000 in equipment. They’re hoping to have the work completed by spring, 2013.

New jobs created at the Athens location include 40 plant laborers at an average salary of $12.30 per hour, one service technician at $12.50 per hour and two sales representatives with an annual income of $85,000. Champion officials’ requests stated a preference for expanding the Athens facility, rather than its plant in Burleson, because of its “strong, capable workforce, able to produce the affordable, high quality homes that its customers demand.”

Champion, and its manufactured housing factory, was once a major employer in the city. The Michigan-based corporation eventually closed its Athens plant, but reappeared with the purchase of Athens Park Homes in January.

In other action, the council awarded a franchise to Gates Community Church doing business as The Chariot Bus Lines for a period of one year. The Chariot line has been making regular runs to Tyler since September. The franchise agreement sets grants rates as $5 for a one-way trip to Tyler, and $3.50, if more than three tips are purchased at any time.