WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — The latest addition to the Wichita Falls Business Park off U.S. 287 and Hammon Road could mean big growth for the city’s economy.
Winfield United, a company under the Land O’Lakes umbrella, broke ground on a new facility on Wednesday, November 9, 2022.
Construction on the new 100,000-square-foot facility in the Wichita Falls Business Park is set to begin soon. Once completed, the goal is to consolidate five regional operations in Texas and Oklahoma down to one single plant in Wichita Falls.
On Wednesday, Wichita Falls city officials, members of the Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce, and community leaders gathered at the future site of Winfield United to celebrate the facility’s groundbreaking.
A representative from the office of Gov. Greg Abbott also attended with a proclamation signed by Gov. Abbott in hand.
Although incentives were approved just five months ago, Stephen Santellana, Mayor of Wichita Falls, said the city’s investment in the Wichita Falls Business Park began years before.
“You see the money we’ve already invested into this business park,” Mayor Santellana said. “You know, the initial investment years back and now this new roadway with all the infrastructure underneath it, you know, that helps bring industry.”
Winfield United is expanding its local facility, and according to Heath Gholson, the Area Manager for the company for Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Kansas, Wichita Falls just makes sense.
“From a geographical standpoint, it’s going to be great for us,” Gholson said.
Wichita Falls serves as a central location for the four states Gholson manages, but that’s not the only enticing thing about the company setting up shop in Wichita Falls.
“Not only geographically is it great for us, but the City of Wichita Falls and just what the city means and how the passion that they have really aligned with Land O’ Lakes and Winfield United,” Gholson said.
One passion shared by the leadership of Wichita Falls and Land O’Lakes is investing in the community. For Mayor Santellana, that starts with contributing to the local economy.
“Just in the construction, the $14 million. You know, that money turns over in our industry,” Mayor Santellana said. “We’re hiring subcontractors and contractors and engineers and architects and people selling materials and our supply houses are going to get bolstered.”
According to Gholson, it won’t be long before construction is completed and an initial economic boost is felt in Wichita Falls.
“Supposed to start really breaking ground the end of this month,” Gholson said. “The plan is to be in August of next year, so we’re really going to go up with it fast.”
And that’s just the beginning for Wichita Falls. The plant plans to eventually expand from eight employees to sixteen, adding a total payroll of around $1 million. But adding a handful of jobs is just the beginning.
“Once this building is built, you know, the supplies they have to buy from our local economy, you know, the groceries for the employees, the payroll that gets injected back in there, it means a lot,” Mayor Santellana said. “You know, there’s an initial effect of just the construction, but then there’s a long-term broad ripple effect that’s going to happen from day to day.”
With construction yet to get underway, the impact of Winfield United on the Wichita Falls community is already being felt.
Just a few hours after their groundbreaking ceremony at the Wichita Falls Business Park, officials with Winfield United donated 10 tons of macaroni and cheese to the Wichita Falls Area Food Bank.
David O’Neil, Director of Philanthropy for WFAFB, said that while all donations make a difference, a gift this size could be impactful for a matter of months.
“This donation really is going to make a difference through Thanksgiving, through the holidays, and even after that some,” O’Neil said.
Not only was it a generous donation, but it was a huge boost for WFAFB, and it was all thanks to Land O’Lakes First Start Program.
“It’s in collaboration with Feeding America,” Gholson said. “It’s been around for 12-plus years. And over those years they’ve given over six and a half million pounds of fresh products out to food banks all across the nation.”
Thus, a healthy ecosystem has formed, with businesses investing in Wichita Falls, thanks to the city’s investments in the Wichita Falls Business Park. Mayor Santellana said he hopes it’s a catalyst to economic growth in Wichita Falls.
“Winfield being here is just another spark that’s going to light a fire, and you’re going to be able to see more and more industry coming here,” Mayor Santellana said.