Thursday AM October 29th, 2009

Communities that would be adversely affected by the potential closing of a military vehicle manufacturing plant on I-10 are beginning to rally. Ed Mayberry reports.

The City of Sealy and the Katy Economic Development Council have formed a task force that includes the Greater Houston Partnership and several politicians.  They're generating awareness about a U.S. Army decision to award a multi-billion-dollar contract to a Wisconsin competitor, rather than renewing with BAE Systems  in Sealy, where they've been made for 17 years.  Katy EDC's Lance LaCour says it's more than just writing letters and arranging meetings with government officials.

"Well, we want to make people aware of the economic impact of the project.  And also we're looking to try to find some incentives and some programs that can help the facility be as efficient as possible--perhaps some tax incentives.  We're working on a couple of those projects right now."

Ed: "It seems like the community has really rallied around this issue, here."

"Yes, we're rallying around it strongly.  The fabric of this facility is not just in one particular area.  It's throughout the whole Houston region."

Around 3,000 jobs in the Sealy area are in jeopardy.  The plant contributes an estimated $500 million annually to the region's economy through employee salaries, contract work and vendor partnerships.  There's a workshop this evening at Sealy City Hall to organize volunteers.

"Yes, there's a lot of people that want to get involved with the process.  They want to show their support for the facility and the company and all the great things it's done over the last 17 years.  And so there will be a community meeting at six p.m.  We're planning to meet every two weeks.  This plant has a tremendous amount of family significance.  The plant's been there a long time.  And in terms of the economy, it's a great diversification for our area.  It provides a diverse economy and it's just a wonderful resource for the whole region."

BAE Systems  has an official challenge to the Army decision making its way through the process.  Ed Mayberry, KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.

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Bio photo of Ed Mayberry

Ed Mayberry

Local Anchor, All Things Considered

Ed Mayberry has worked in radio since 1971, with many of those years spent on the rock 'n' roll disc jockey side of the business...