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Press Release: BISNOW Webinar


“City of Waller: Small Town Feel and Big Town Opportunities”

BISNOW Webinar – September 3, 2020

John Isom
City of Waller EDC Director


Click to watch webinar



Webinar Video Transcript (01:48 to 07:55)


I’d like to thank the BISNOW team that has put together this - our first promotional webinar. And thanks to all you who are attending - it shows great interest in Waller. Our goal here is to attract high quality development to broaden our tax base, great jobs, and improve our citizens’ quality of living.

 You might ask why we're doing the webinar now. We've been experiencing steady industrial growth the last five years and we want to continue to build on that. The recent trigger is that Christie wrote a business article on Waller back in June and understand we got a lot of views on that, 6800 or so, showing a lot of interest. So we decided to do something more in depth to help build on that momentum as well.

 We're trying to take advantage of a couple of trends. One, of course, is the manufacturing reshoring that’s going on, and Houston is going to be primary for that. We want to be on the radar. And then predictions about the pandemic effects include a trend in companies becoming increasingly interested in looking a little further outside cities in the less crowded small towns. So that describes us and we want to be on the radar as these trends continue to develop.

 Let me give a little bit of background about the City of Waller, and this information is also available on our development PowerPoint that could be available to you by request.  The city sits in both Waller and Harris counties. Our population estimate in 2019 was about 3450. That was up 49% from the 2010 census. And that growth rate is eighth among cities in the Houston region and 62nd among Texas cities.

 According to Workforce Solutions data, within a 30 minute commute (which is average commute in Houston), within a 30 minute commute to the City of Waller we have a population of 1.4 million people to draw from.  As far as workforce & transportation logistics for commuting or shipping, US290 has 6 lanes to the Grand Parkway and from there you connect to I-10 and I-45 very easily. So our logistics have improved very much.

 In terms of jobs, before the pandemic we had added about 1000 industrial jobs in the last five years, for a total of about 1500 jobs within the city. If you go back from the 2010 census to 2019. We've added around 1100 population and around 1200 industrial jobs within the city. And then you add the effect of 8500 Daikin jobs that are two miles to the east of the city where they had their grand opening in May of 2017. Daikin has been a great partner for both the city and Waller ISD and, obviously increased the market need for housing in the area as well.

 As far as our companies’ current status:  Our oil and gas companies are on reduced workforce, some of them still shut down. All of our other businesses are open. And as with all Oil and Gas everywhere, it still remains to be seen which companies are going to come back strong and which will downsize. We know it's possible that one or two of the companies here will need to close their facility and we've been in contact with them. We don't want to lose those jobs, of course, but if we do, we’re already working with them to market those facilities to the prospect leads that we continue to receive from the governor's office and the Greater Houston Partnership, and we're confident that we'll bring those jobs back fairly quickly.

 In terms of incentives, Mayor Marburger and our council are very conservative with city finances but they are open to incentive agreements that show mutual benefit to the city and the companies. Some of our incentives are: Freeport Exemption that's offered by the city and the ISD  - and Foreign Trade Zones. Vince Yokom with the Waller County Economic Development Partnership, has recently signed a subzone agreement with the Port of Houston so now both Harris County and Waller County sides of our city are available for Foreign Trade Zone development. In terms of tax abatements and sales tax reimbursement, we're always willing to take a look at and negotiate for those kinds of benefits on any project with significant investment or job creation. The EDC also works with companies where utility extensions are necessary to help share those costs and lower the initial company investment. And of course, we can facilitate all state incentives such as enterprise zones, Texas Enterprise Fund, Skills Development workforce grants, industrial bonds, section 313 tax limitations … all those are available through the EDC.


Let's say something about our sales tax. That’s been a concern for cities during the pandemic, and our City of Waller sales taxes have stayed very strong this year.  We're showing a 48% increase year to date over 2019.   To put that in perspective, In terms of city population, we're in the 37th percentile of Texas cities’ population. We're in the 17th percent percentile on the total sales tax for this year. And we're the seventh percentile in the percentage of increase in sales tax of all the 1200 cities in Texas. So I like to say that we're punching above our weight class and staying strong in that area. So that's a current overview view from the city side. I do have a PowerPoint available for request.

 I want to turn to the school district now. Obviously school district quality is very important in the development decisions for industrial, commercial, and residential developers. So I've asked our Waller ISD Superintendent Kevin Moran to join us on this panel to share current status on Waller ISD quality, residential growth, new facilities that the school district is planning, and our growing Career and Technology program. And Kevin, basically anything else that you'd like to share of relevance today so come on in. 



“City of Waller: Small Town Feel and Big Town Opportunities”

BISNOW webinar – September 3, 2020

Kevin Moran, Waller ISD Superintendent


Webinar Video Transcript (7:55 to 14:35)

 Thank you, sir. I want to thank you all, pleasure to be here today and get to talk about our wonderful school district. It is a great topic for me. The school district is I used to say years ago was the kind of the secret of Southeast Texas of how great it was. Well, I think the secret has gotten out. People are moving into Waller ISD at a very steady rate. And a little background on Waller ISD - it is actually 328 square miles of school district and we are in two counties - Waller and Harris County. Presently, we have eight schools: one high school, two junior highs, and five elementaries. But that is changing very rapidly.

 I think our biggest point of pride for Waller ISD is our academics. Our school is an A rating by the state of Texas and there are very few schools in the Houston area that have an A rating from the state of Texas, and we're very proud of that.   But it also begins with how we approach learning with kids. We believe in that personal touch with the kids and that's what we're seeing is the parents moving here, they're looking for that smaller atmosphere to be able to have the teachers that care contact and reach out to their kids. The greatest example of this, and I was not going to mention the P word but pandemic, during the pandemic, we didn't lose touch with our kids at all.  Our teachers reached out and found every kid during the pandemic. Some districts struggled with that Waller did not because it's going above and beyond.  We have a phrase “all about kids” and in Waller that is truly the case. Our graduation rate is 98%; it is way above the state average, our average daily attendance in Waller ISD by our students is almost 97%.  So if you think about those two things combined, it takes the kid from K through 12 and we worked with them the entire way.

 Now one thing I will tell you for the business community, you can come to Waller ISD, have your student enrolled in Waller High School, and before they leave they can complete 40 plus hours of dual credit programming with Lone Star College and basically be a sophomore in college before they leave here, plus numerous AP courses. So technically we've had students leave Waller ISD and have enough quality credits in college to qualify to be a junior in college when they get there, because they've taken so many AP courses or dual credit courses at Waller ISD. So if that's the track that you're on, it's a vibrant program. It's doing very well and our kids are highly successful once they leave us.

 But the other area is Career and Technology Education. Career & Technology Education allows us to offer industry certifications to kids in their high school career, so they don't have to earn it when they enter the workforce after high school. Matter of fact, many of our kids that enter get industry certifications, some go straight into the workforce, some go into the military, and some go on to college. So it's been interesting to see that.  We issued over 808 industry certifications at Waller High School last year, by far the leader in the Houston area of industry certifications. 

 If you're wondering, you know, what areas would we be issuing those industry certifications, the State of Texas has what they call career cluster offerings. And we offer everything from architecture and construction, AV arts, business management, finance, Human Services, marketing, manufacturing, STEM, information technology, and public safety. We offer all of those including hospitality and tourism - I don't want to forget that or they will get mad at me - all those certifications to those kids while they're in high school. So I think that's very important when you're looking at being prepared to go into the workforce. Our goal is to partner with businesses in the area. And we've been very successful doing that with the businesses in Waller right now, and supplying them with workers. Numerous companies in Waller have taken our kids fresh out of high school with their industry certifications and employed them very successfully I might add, and those programs continue to grow in Waller. And we look forward to work with any business to see what we could offer to help supply them with a workforce that is good for them. Now Waller High School is also a comprehensive high school. It offers every academic program, sports program, band program that can be thought of, so we look at the entire kid and prepare him for life in society, and that's important to us.

 But Waller is growing as I told you before.  One of the things that we're seeing is about a 4 to 5% growth rate in Waller ISD. We just finished a PASA demographics report for Waller ISD, and the growth rate is expected to be 4%, 6%, 8%, 9% to 10%, all the way until 2025 in number of students coming to Waller. So you're wondering if we move our business there will my employees have schools to go to? The answer is yes. In 2019, we passed a $295 million bond, which will allow us to expand our facilities and produce new facilities.   Also I think the most important thing going forward for businesses, we have no facility in Waller ISD that is anywhere close to being an end-of-life building. That means we could focus on the growth and focus on what's new for Waller. And we know that our buildings that are here presently are in good shape and ready to go for the next 20 to 30 years.

 On a side note of that we've also maintained our tax rate exactly the same for the last 10 years. Up until the last two - we've actually lowered our tax rate in Waller ISD the last two years. And there is no reason that we should be having to raise that tax rate anytime soon.

 The goal is to work in hand in hand with business with the schools to bring businesses in. So as long as people are moving in, we can keep a nice low tax rate moving through the schools. We're very focused on working with that. We also will be building a comprehensive high school, which will encompass every CTE program and industry certification that the state says we can offer and some that we don't get credit for the state but are important to the business community as well. Every student that leaves Waller High School will have an industry certification if they're involved in our CTE program and over 89% of our students participate in our current technology education program.

 So we think the future is very bright in Waller ISD. We think the growth is there. We think the urge to do business in Waller works hand in hand with the school district, and we look forward to seeing you.