VERNON (KFDX/KJTL) — According to an October report, Wilbarger County has an unemployment rate of 4.8%. The highest in our area.

It’s the only county in the area that is over 4%. But, that could soon change with the announcement of the new hydrogen production plant.

Nearly $4 billion will be poured into the old Oklaunion power station in what will be a new hydrogen production plant. One of the largest of its kind in the nation.

“Man when you get a press release from the governor’s office that says something like this is going to happen in Wilbarger County it was a feeling of excitement,” city of Vernon Mayor Pam Gosline said.

With just over a thousand temporary jobs and hundreds of permanent jobs coming in, Gosline said expect the Vernon economy to thrive and unemployment to go down.

“There are jobs to be found in Vernon, locally. As well as the state of Texas. There are jobs out there. Will be beneficial to the local businesses downtown all the restaurants, any of the businesses in this community,” Gosline said.

Benefiting local businesses like The Bumble B. Owner Karen DeBord said the excitement of the plant means new faces stopping downtown to shop.

“They’re curious about what’s downtown and if they come into the small shops, it helps our small businesses. And, our small businesses need help, and I’m so excited they are coming,” DeBord said.

Debord said, like any business, her plan is to expand her business. And by expanding, hoping families moving also bring a potential employee for her.

“We do need more employees for our small businesses so our managers and owners can have their rest. And, we do need those people. Maybe if they came in they’ll be wanting to work,” DeBord said.

“What happens in Wilbarger County, helps Vernon and again like I said, and I keep saying it, it’s going to help an entire region,” Gosline said.

Construction of the plant is expected to start in 2023. Gosline also said people can expect town hall meetings in the future for people to get more information and the city receive feedback on how they can prepare for the future.