Paris City Council OK’s incentive package for a ‘significant’ economic development prospect

PEDC executive director Steve Gilbert (left) and PEDC board president Doug Wehrman look on as the Paris City Council quickly gives unanimous authorization Monday for the PEDC to finalize an agreement with an unnamed major corporation to locate a plant in Paris. “This is a significant number of jobs for our community and a significant capital investment as well,” Gilbert told eParisExtra. (eParisExtra photo by Charles Richards)


What a Christmas this might be for Paris!

Steve Gilbert, executive director of the Paris Economic Development Corporation, said as much Monday night after getting the OK from the Paris City Council on an incentive package that Gilbert hopes will persuade a major corporation to establish a plant in Paris instead of three other cities under consideration.

“We can’t discuss the details yet, but we’re talking about a significant number of jobs for our community and significant capital investment as well,” Gilbert told eParisExtra.

The three other cities vying for the plant are in Pennsylvania, Nebraska and South Carolina, Gilbert said.

“We hope that before the Christmas break, all of the details of the project will be finalized and that the company will make an announcement,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert and Doug Wehrman, president of the PEDC board, emerged at 6:35 p.m. Monday from a one-hour meeting in which they briefed the Paris City Council on “Project Modern Art.”

“We are waiting on a request that we’ve made to the state for some assistance, and everything on the project is on hold until then. We are competing with three other cities on this project. We’re pretty far down the road, so we’re encouraged,” the PEDC executive director added.

Asked if the company’s name would be recognizable to Paris residents, Gilbert smiled and said, “Very.”

Earlier Monday, the PEDC board met. Then Gilbert and Wehrman went to the council seeking its approval.

After a 63-minute discussion behind closed doors, the council came out and by unanimous vote authorized Gilbert to finalize an agreement between the PEDC and Project Modern Art.

“So now both the city and the PEDC are on the same page,” Gilbert said. “This action that the council took tonight lets us move forward. We are optimistic that in just a matter of a few weeks the project will be complete.”

The code name doesn’t mean the economic prospect has anything to do with art, Gilbert said. Each economic development  prospect the PEDC pursues is given a code name to allow discussion publicly without disclosing the name of the company or the nature of its business.


send comments on this article to


Print Friendly

About the Author

Charles Richards Charles Richards moved to Paris in 2004 after retiring from a 40-year career in journalism – the last 26 years as a news writer and sports writer with The Associated Press in Dallas and Washington, D.C. In mid-2004, The Paris News coaxed him out of retirement, and he began covering the police, court and regional beat for The Paris News. Then in early 2005, he was switched to coverage of a sharply divided Paris City Council. He was appointed by the City Council in 2006 to the 12-member City Charter Review Commission, which extensively rewrote the outmoded document. His writing awards include two first-place awards in statewide competition for feature writing. The most recent was his 2005 story on a Paris doctor’s startling use of leeches in a successful attempt to re-attach a man’s severed ear. Over his career, Richards’ interview subjects include Alabama Gov. George Wallace, President Bill Clinton, President George W. Bush, David Koresh, Arnold Palmer, Muhammad Ali and numerous other political and sports figures. He is an alumnus of Texas Tech, where he was editor of the school newspaper. He lives in Paris with his wife, Barbara, who is retired after 30 years as a teacher and high school counselor.