For years the ongoing debate in Amarillo regarding economic development and the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation is whether the organization should be switched from a Type A corporation to a Type B corporation. With information from both sides of the debate, we have compiled a list of things that should be known when figuring how the issue will affect Amarillo.
What is Type A?
According to Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar's office, Type A corporations can mainly fund industrial development type projects. Specifically, "Type A EDCs are typically created to fund industrial development projects such as business infrastructure, manufacturing and research and development."
Type A economic development corporations can also fund other job related projects like military base realignment, job training classes and public transportation projects.
What is Type B?
Type B corporations are extremely similar to the Type A corporations, although neighborhood quality projects can also be funded, according to Hegar's office. This type of corporation can fund all of the same types of projects as the first type of corporation, but can also fund parks, museums, sports facilities and affordable housing. However, these projects will have more restrictions that the standard Type A corporation projects.
What cities have a Type A corporation and who has a Type B corporation?
The projects are funded through sales tax and according to the Texas Municipal League, some 586 cities have adopted an economic development sales tax since 1987. Of those that have adopted the sales tax, 101 cities have a Type A sales tax, 367 cities have a Type B sales tax and 118 cities have adopted both sales taxes.
What type of corporation does Amarillo currently have?
Amarillo currently has a Type A corporation. There have been pushes by some in the community to change the corporation to a Type B corporation. While several in the community have aggressively pushed such a measure, a change or discussion of a change has never materialized.
The current corporation has remained the same since the inception of the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation. According to AEDC president Barry Albrecht, the AEDC has created a number of primary jobs throughout its tenure but there are no official numbers to indicate how many jobs have remained in Amarillo long term.
Who runs the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation?
The AEDC has a president named Barry Albrecht. Albrecht executes deals approved by the board of directors of the organization and oversees a staff that assists with the projects. The AEDC's board includes five Amarillo residents: Brian Heinrich, Laura Street, Brian Bruckner, Tom Bivins and Craig Gualtiere.
What are some examples of projects that the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation has funded or helped fund?
Amarillo was one of the first cities in Texas to choose to create an economic development corporation and has since seen several projects worked on by the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation. Some notable projects before 2017 include the Hilmar Cheese Company factory project in Dalhart and multiple expansion projects at Bell Helicopter. Also, during Buzz David's tenure as AEDC president, the organization attracted controversy when it purchased the downtown Commerce Building. The purchase eventually led to an probe by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to local news outlets.
Most recently, the AEDC has been under the leadership of president Barry Albrecht. Albrecht came to Amarillo after working projects in Oklahoma and Arizona. Albrecht has overseen the approval of two projects in Amarillo: the $1.8 million deal with the Fairly Group and the project with Maxor Pharmacy that could extend up to $13 million for 30 years.
What do City of Amarillo officials think about changing the structure of the corporation?
Mayor Ginger Nelson and other elected officials never specifically talked about the structure of the corporation in 2017 and have said little about it since being elected to the City Council.
During the presentation of the Align Amarillo plan, however, City of Amarillo staff and Councilmembers were told that the Type A plan would continue working best for Amarillo. Employees from Avalanche Consulting conducted a survey and presented the following conclusion:
"While switching to a Type B sales tax may seem like an attractive option to fund a variety of projects that do not create primary jobs, this would not necessarily help Amarillo achieve its strategic goals"
What would it take to change the structure of the AEDC?
Voters in Amarillo would have to approve the switch. According to information from the Texas Association of City Attorneys, the change would have to be approved by voters using specific ballot language. Specifically, voters would have to approve a repeal of the Type A corporation, while also approving the creation of a Type B corporation.
Voters could also instead approve the Type B corporation to go along with the Type A corporation. As stated previously in this article, 118 cities have adopted such a method for their economic development commissions.