That’s the message Texas Agricultural Commissioner Todd Staples shared with members of the Bee County Chamber of Commerce during its annual banquet on Friday night.
“I am want to tell you, ladies and gentlemen, you have something very, very special, that communities all across Texas are very envious of,” he said. “The Chase complex is something that many communities can never build. Even the dollars they set aside for industrial complexes will never match what you have.”
Staples was keynote speaker at this year’s banquet, which was held at the Beeville Country Club.
He said members of the Bee Development Authority — executive director Joe B. Montez and BDA board President Laura Fischer — gave him a tour of the industrial park prior to the banquet.
The BDA is charged with revitalizing the former naval air field for commercial enterprises.
Bee County Judge David Silva also escorted Staples on the tour.
Staples, who has visited Beeville often since he was a child, said he was “thrilled to see all the economic development activities going on” at Chase Field.
Staples said he was impressed with the Sikorsky Aerospace Maintenance operations at Chase Field. The company repairs both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft at its Chase Field facility. Company executives announced in January that they may expand the workforce to 500 employees in the future.
Staples thanked Sikorsky and Kay & Associates, which handles the hiring of personnel for Sikorsky, for relocating to Texas.
He assured the two firms that the people of Bee County will do whatever it takes to make the facility a success.
“You certainly have good partners here in Bee County,” he said.
Staples assured the Chamber that Fischer talked to him extensively about the economic development possibilities at the industrial park and how that expansion could be made possible with funding from the Texas Capital Fund, which is overseen by the Texas Department of Agriculture.
Staples told the Bee-Picayune prior to the banquet that he sees no reason why the Chase Field complex cannot successfully compete for a Texas Capital Fund grant.
“Chase Field is certainly eligible,” he said, adding that “the economic development project at Chase Field should certainly be competitive.”
He assured the audience Friday that he was willing to do what he can to help Beeville and Bee County obtain one of the grants. “I look forward to the opportunity to put that money to work here in Bee County,” he said.
Staples applauded efforts by state Rep. Yvonne Gonzalez Toureilles to find economic development funding for the Chase Field complex.
Toureilles’ House District 35 includes Bee County. She attended the CofC banquet.
After his tour of Chase Field, Staples presented a $150,000 grant to the Beeville Main Street Program.
The program’s director, Molly Young, and entrepreneur Brenda Hughes gave Staples a tour of downtown Beeville and some of the ongoing Main Street projects.
“There are some exciting things taking place in downtown Beeville,” he said. “And that is a good sign and a welcome mat, I believe, not only to individuals seeking to retire to Texas but for businesses looking for opportunities as well.”
Staples said the Beeville Main Street Program won the highly competitive grant — and Chase Field has become the envy of other communities — because of the teamwork of citizens, civic groups and government agencies.
Hearing about the night’s award winners and their contributions to the chamber and to their community “reminds me that things don’t happen by chance,” he explained. “They happen because someone wills it to happen. Someone rolls up their sleeves. Someone understands that if you want a bright future, you have to start on it today.”