Orange Co. paves way for economic growth

Orange Co. paves way for economic growth

Orange County Commissioners have unanimously approved a resolution to nominate International Paper as a double jumbo enterprise project and entered into a contract with for the company to provide public, fee-based access to records of the district and county clerk offices.

Jonathan Ferguson with Ryan LLC, a consulting firm assisting International Paper with the double jumbo enterprise project, approached the podium at the Commissioners Court meeting Monday, May 20, to explain the request for nomination.

“Essentially the difference between just a single enterprise project and a double jumbo is in order to get the double jumbo status, you have to be planning to spend at least $150 million in capital over the five-year designation period, and International Paper is planning to do that over the next five years at the Orange County mill. They employ approximately 370 employees at the mill and this capital investment will help. … That is one part of the program, meant to retain the existing level of employment.”

According to the State Comptroller’s website, the Texas Enterprise Zone Program is an economic development tool for local communities to partner with the state of Texas to promote job creation and capital investment in economically distressed areas of the state. Local communities must nominate a company as an Enterprise Project to be eligible to participate in the Enterprise Zone Program. Designated projects are eligible to apply for state sales and use tax refunds on qualified expenditures. The level and amount of refund is related to the capital investment and jobs created or retained at the qualified business site. International Paper’s request to be considered a double jumbo enterprise project requires guaranteed capital investments of more than $150 million up to $249.99 million in order for the company to apply for tax incentives under the program.

Commissioners approved the measure to nominate International Paper as a double enterprise project to the state, paving the way into Orange County for the $150 million in capital the company plans to spend over the next five years. Commissioners then approved a related measure authorizing Judge Carl Thibodeaux to sign all forms concerning the certification of application for the project.

In other matters, the county signed a contract with for the company to provide public, fee-based access to district and county clerks’ scanned records. According to company representative Armando Balderrama, Orange County will join 69 other counties who utilize’s records services.

“This is a contract to provide information and technology services to the public,” County Attorney Doug Manning said, addressing commissioners. “We have an independent right to do that without any competitive bidding. Plus, there is no expenditure by the county.”

Manning recommended the county enter into an agreement similar to the one Polk County has with the company. He said county employees would have free access to the database of all counties using, and 20 percent of revenue generated by the fees for accessing records would go to the county.

Balderrama added that public users would be entitled to one free query per day, and users who plan to use the database frequently, like attorneys and bondsmen, could subscribe to the service to reduce their costs.

County Engineer Clark Slacum said he wanted to remind people using the county landfill that permits would now be required for use of the facility. Permits can be purchased at the Orange County tax office or the Road and Bridge Office in Orange, temporarily located behind the Veterans Administration Building at 10984 FM 1442. Permits will not be sold as the collection site, so permits must be purchased prior to trash drop-off. Call (409) 882-7905 for more information.

Orange County also joined other counties, cities and the nation in proclaiming May as National Mental Health Awareness Month. Janna Fulbright from The Spindletop Center appeared and accepted the proclamation, thanking the commissioners for the recognition. The center serves Jefferson, Orange, Hardin and Chambers counties.


Sharon Brooks can be reached at (409) 832-1400, ext. 241, or by e-mail at sharon [at] theexaminer [dot] com.