New hemp facility considers Wichita Falls for major investment

Local News

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL)— There could be a new business and jobs coming to Wichita Falls. The hemp processing company Panda Biotech is looking for a new location for a multi-million dollar facility and the city council offered incentives if it moves into the old Delphi building off of I-44.

Panda Biotech is considering two other cities to build its first facility. If they come to Wichita Falls, it could put money in their pockets and give jobs to many others.

With a unanimous decision from city councilors, a $2.8 million incentive plan to plant Panda Biotech in the city was approved. This plan includes a forgivable loan of $2 million that can be forgiven if the company produces at least 50 jobs. Officials from the panda biotech plan to surpass that mark.

“There’s no question that the 50 jobs will be a minimum number for us. We’re excited as this production facility grows that it could be much much higher than that,” Panda Biotech executive vice president Dixie Carter said.

“This is the reason the citizens voted to tax themselves 20 years ago for economic development is to encourage new job creation and new capital investment,” Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Henry Florsheim said. “This investment will be north of $100 million, one of the largest capital investments in our history.”

Panda Biotech uses industrial hemp to produce textile-grade fiber and premium cellulose by putting hemp straw into a hemp gin. If the company purchases the former Delphi plant, they said it would be the largest hemp center of its kind in the country.

“If Wichita Falls is selected things will move very quickly. We look to be operational first quarter of next year, the first decornicating line that will do 10 thousand tons an hour so that equipment will be fully operational by mid-year,” Carter said.

Panda Biotech is also in final negotiations with two other cities. It could be disappointing for city officials if they don’t choose Wichita Falls.

“That’s the way economic development works,” Florsheim said. “At any given time we’re juggling 20 or 30 different projects at different stages of the process. And so this is one that’s surfaced to the top, we’re almost there. And so if we could just get past that final hurdle this is gonna mean huge things for our city.”

A historic investment could come to Wichita Falls, if the city is choosen.

If the plant is built and later closes or forfeits on the agreement, the city would then take ownership of the building as collateral for the loan.

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Those out of work due to COVID-19 could be in luck as a Dallas-based Panda Biotech, a hemp processing facility, could potentially call Wichita Falls home and would offer 50 to 75 new jobs in the area.

Vice President of Business Attraction for the Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce David Leezer said it’s not set in stone yet, but he’s hopeful the company will decide to move to Wichita Falls.

Leezer said the company specializes in harvesting hemp to make fabric out of it, making it more environmentally friendly. Last week the Wichita Falls Economic Development Corporation approved an incentive package worth us to $2.8 million to attract the project.

“The primary product that they would be producing is a fabric type material that you would find in clothing and you would find potentially in plastic material, replacing the oils in the plastics, so it has a lot of different uses and could really have a huge impact in this region,” Leezer said.

Leezer said our location is key for this potential new business because of the access to Oklahoma and Dallas that I-44 and Highway 287 provide.

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