Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Polo Enriquez spent 30 years at Pacific Gas & Electric Co., where he was trained in the principles of economic development.
After retiring from the company, Enriquez started a career working for city governments and economic development corporations in Texas, Washington and California.
Enriquez recently talked with the Herald about what an economic development corporation does and how it is helping fuel growth in Copperas Cove.
What exactly does an economic development corporation do? Why does Copperas Cove need you?
We’re a nonprofit organization. We were created under something called the Texas Economic Development Corporation Act of 1979. All that high-falutin’ stuff did was give cities of our size — 50,000 and under — the opportunity to create economic development entities within themselves to do the work we do here.
The city of Copperas Cove, way back in the ’90s, chose by voter mandate to create this corporation in the way it was outlined in this act. So they created the Copperas Cove EDC. Part of that creation is what I just told you. We are governed by the board of directors, which is appointed by the city council.
Our main objective, our goal in life, is to attract, retain and expand businesses in this community. The result of that is to create additional sales tax, additional property tax and enhance the job creation opportunities for our citizens.
What types of businesses do you concentrate on attracting?
We throw a wide net. It depends on the situation or the circumstances. We have small businesses that would fit very well in some of our commercial corridors, (U.S.) 190, downtown and other places within Copperas Cove.
We also look at larger businesses for some of our larger pieces of property, in particular the land we are developing on Constitution Drive that we will call the Narrows Business and Technology Park. So those will be the larger companies. Those will be companies that typically do not exist in Copperas Cove at this time.
So when I say we throw a wide net, we are in the business attraction arena to attract everything from a Starbucks to manufacturing or assembly companies.
The Five Hills shopping center has a few businesses already in operation. How big an impact will that have on the sales tax base?
It will be an astronomical leap forward because the vast majority of businesses that will end up at Five Hills will be sales tax generators.
Take H-E-B. Their closed store sold mostly groceries, and groceries are typically not subject to sales tax. So they collected a small amount of sales tax, relatively.
The new H-E-B is an H-E-B Plus, which means they sell a lot of products that are subject to sales tax. I anticipate the contribution that H-E-B will make from here on in to our sales tax base will be three times what it has been in the past just because of the products they sell. And the sheer size of the place.
As other retailers come in, the increase will be astronomical. Of course, there will be expenses, too, as there always are in a new development, that will offset some of those gains.
How does attracting businesses help increase property tax?
Lets take the new H-E-B, the technology center and even Cinergy Cinemas as examples. All of those properties were owned by Fort Hood at one time. It was not on the tax rolls. Not one penny went to local county, city or school district property taxes. They are now in private hands and run by private individuals running private businesses, which are subject to property taxes. So the city, the county and the school district and other entities that assess property tax are now the beneficiaries.
How would you pitch Cove to a potential business in one sentence?
Copperas Cove offers an unbelievable amount of reasons to come in, including the fact that Texas has no corporate or income tax; we own land that would be suitable for your business and we’re a business-friendly community that will make it easy for you to relocate your business.