The Kilgore Economic Development Corporation announced that Skeeter Boats will expand its presence in Kilgore to include the former Halliburton site.
KEDC said the expansion is being carried out on the basis of a buy-sell agreement and an economic development agreement with KEDC, with support from the City of Kilgore and other stakeholders.
As part of the project, Skeeter Boats will acquire the former Halliburton site at FM 349. The oilfield service company closed in 2020.
KEDC said the project will stretch over the next decade, adding more than 90 jobs and adding about 25 percent capacity through investments in two facilities.
“Skeeter Boats has been a powerful employer in Kilgore since the early 1970s and is landlocked in its current location,” said KEDC Executive Director Lisa Denton. “This purchase will enable the company to achieve a deliberate growth in the Kilgore location over the next few years.”
KEDC stated that the initial project time frame is 18 months.
The KEDC Board of Directors finally approved the contract on 17 January. On February 20, Kilgore City Council is expected to vote on tax credits for the project.
The two-phase project includes 12 acres, as well as an option for the remainder of the 55,130 acre site. The capital investment for Phase 1 is estimated at $6.76 million and will include the creation of seven jobs under KEDC’s initial three-year economic performance agreement with Skeeter.
Phase II begins approximately 30 months after the agreement, with Skeeter purchasing the remaining 43,125 acres of the former Halliburton site and building a new boat manufacturing plant within 3-5 years of the agreement. The capital investment is estimated at $30 million and will include the creation of 84 jobs within seven years of the agreement.
Jeff Stone, senior vice president of Skeeter Products, said he is keen to bring more people into the Skeeter family and increase daily production capacity at Kilgore while bringing the adjacent site back into action.
“I grew up in this area and in this part of East Texas. It is very important and very interesting to observe such a revival,” he said.
This will be the largest Skeeter Boat expansion ever. The company has been operating for 75 years – 50 of them in Kilgore.
“Over the years, the city of Kilgore and KEDC have played an important role in our growth. They’ve been with us all these years,” Stone added. “We are deeply indebted to them for their support in helping us as we grow.”
KEDC states that they plan to help Skeeter claim tax credits for the project. The Economic Development Corporation is the owner financing the purchase of the property, with benefits applied to the principal as they earn.
“Following the unfortunate departure of Halliburton in 2020, the KEDC board immediately recognized the need to acquire property with the sole intent of putting it back on the tax rolls at its highest and best use,” Denton said. “With the close of this sale and with the full support of the City Council, we will achieve this goal.”
KEDC said potential performance-based investment and job creation incentives include up to $354,525 paid over the three-year Phase I term and up to $1.7 million over the seven-year Phase II.
“It’s great to see this project coming to fruition,” said Bob Davis, Jr., president of the KEDC Board of Directors. “To see the continued growth of one of our main employers and play a small part in the process is what KEDC is all about.”
Stone said they are grateful for the help from KEDC and other tax authorities for their support.
“It’s also a boon to be able to expand on a vacant, underused lot and breathe new life into it,” he said. this property is to provide additional jobs, additional tax base, which is very important for the city, county, school district.
“It’s a win-win for the city, for Skeeter, for Yamaha, and especially for the people of the area.”
KEDC said the expansion will allow Skeeter to “manufacture a variety of small boat essentials such as consoles, storage boxes and hatches and bring those employees under one roof at Kilgore while adding additional jobs.”
“The new job growth will come from increasing our capacity from 12 boats to 15 boats a day,” Stone said. It takes about 125 hours to produce one boat, so the additional production capacity is up to 15 jobs per boat, which adds to the daily routine.