ith nearly 1.5 million people within 60 miles and quick access to the DFW metro area via I-20, Kilgore’s location in northeast Texas already has a lot going for it. The Class-A campus-style business park known as Synergy Park just adds icing to the cake.
Park amenities include walking trails, a fully stocked lake, and a covered pavilion with picnic tables. “We host events in the park such as a food truck lot,” says Lisa Denton, executive director of Kilgore Economic Development Corporation (EDC). “Employers host employee and customer events at the pavilion as well.”
During the past five years Kilgore Economic Development Corp. has closed projects that represent more than $190 million in new and retained capital investment and 2,600 jobs with companies such as Yamaha Marine (Skeeter Products) and Closure Systems International. The organization has invested almost $14 million in asset and infrastructure development, including Synergy Park.
“Employers tell us the park and its amenities help protect a company’s investment and attract the best and brightest of the workforce,” says Denton. “It is an important part of our value proposition.”
In recent months two international companies saw enough value to make major facility investments there.
Camfil USA, the U.S. unit of the Swedish maker of advanced air filtration products, is building its largest facility in the world at Synergy. It’s also the largest attraction project in Kilgore’s economic development history. The company announced in December it would invest $50 million and create more than 200 new jobs within five years at its new manufacturing location, its seventh in the country. The overall company has 33 manufacturing sites, six R&D centers, local sales offices in 30 countries, and about 4,800 employees — a number that keeps on growing as more customers worldwide see the need for high-quality air filtration. The more than 400,000-sq.-ft. facility will occupy 43 acres.
Camfil worked with Texas-based Site Selection Group and Kilgore EDC to choose Kilgore. “We extend our most sincere thanks to the KEDC and everyone in the community who has supported our plans to develop this new facility,” said Armando Brunetti, president of Camfil Americas. “Our air filtration and clean air solutions business has been robust for more than a decade and this new facility will help us improve service levels in the Southwest Region and continue growing.”
“The new facility in Kilgore is an important puzzle piece in our long-term North American strategy, and it gives me great pleasure that we are now moving ahead with this,” said Dan Larson, deputy vice president of supply chain and senior vice president of operations for Camfil Group. “My personal and Camfil’s commitment towards clean air for our customers and partners is measured not in years, but decades. I look forward to a long and prosperous relationship between the great state of Texas, the town of Kilgore and Camfil.”
The company’s entire global team has been laser-focused on solving supply chain issues with a special task force established when COVID-19 first struck, and it has paid dividends with 17 major supply risk mitigation projects and 50 minor ones. “This whole experience has been like running marathon after marathon,” Christian Olsson, vice president of group sourcing for Camfil Group, said in June.
In Kilgore, however, it will be more like a brisk 10K, with the opening of the plant expected in late 2023. The company is operating in a smaller temporary facility in Kilgore during construction.
“The company’s operation adds value to Kilgore in a number of ways,” said Bob Davis, Jr., board president of Kilgore EDC. “It is a high-impact project for capital investment and job creation that diversifies our economy and strengthens an international presence here.”
All Revved Up with a Great Place to Go
Wagner Tuning, a company based in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, is establishing its first U.S. manufacturing operation at Synergy with a $6.2 million investment that creates 30 new jobs. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the company develops and produces high-quality engine parts such as intake manifolds, exhaust manifolds, downpipes and intercooler kits for cars with supercharged engines.
After meeting company officials at a recruiting event in California two years ago, Kilgore EDC leaders worked for two years and made two trips to the company’s German headquarters to secure a deal that would establish a new manufacturing facility in Kilgore. The new manufacturing facility is estimated to be a capital investment of $6.2 million in real and personal property with 30 new jobs. Incentives included an initial buy-down of the lease rate in the beginning years and tax abatements from the city, county and community college. Key to the decision was the custom-fit process of Kilgore EDC’s virtual building program of pre-designed buildings.
In fact, you might say that process has supercharged additional economic development: After establishing the plant, Wagner Tuning relocated its sales operation to Kilgore from California.
“Synergy Park is a great business park, and the EDC team was very welcoming,” said Carsten Wagner, owner of Wagner Tuning. “Texas is a business-friendly state, and a smaller community has the important added benefit of better partnerships. The local quality of life made the decision easy.”
Adam Bruns has served as managing editor of Site Selection magazine since February 2002. In the course of reporting hundreds of stories for Site Selection, Adam has visited companies and communities around the globe. A St. Louis native who grew up in the Kansas City suburbs, Adam is a 1986 alumnus of Knox College, and resided in Chicago; Midcoast Maine; Savannah, Georgia; and Lexington, Kentucky, before settling in the Greater Atlanta community of Peachtree Corners, where he lives with his wife and daughter.