When a group of Parker County residents, business owners and leaders visited Toowoomba, Australia in February of 2019, their goal was twofold — to foster a relationship with the city through a sister cities partnership, and gain more opportunities through economic, cultural and academic exchange.
Now, two years later, that visit is paying off in a big way with the announcement of Australian company Wagners Composite Fiber Technologies LLC coming to Cresson.
Wayne Garrett, chairman of the Parker County Economic Development Council, said Wagners was one of the first “big wins” for the council.
“When we went to Australia, we saw what [Wagners] meant to that community and their quality, and we’re confident that they’re going to be very good corporate citizens,” Garrett said.
Wagners specializes in the use of structural fiber-reinforced plastic for pedestrian, marine and electrical infrastructure, such as bridges, boardwalks or marine piers. Using the unique “pull-winding” process, Wagners CFT structural members achieve a higher strength than steel, while remaining lightweight and completely resistant to rot, rust and corrosion, providing customers with a 100-year design life, according to the company. At full capacity, this facility will produce over 500 miles of fiberglass structural members.
Along with the specialty products available, the Cresson plant should also provide a major boost for employment, with an estimated 300 full-time employees, which will help with the goal of keeping those that live in Parker County employed in Parker County.
“We’ve reduced the number from 60 to 50 percent of people who travel outside for work,” Parker County Judge Pat Deen said. “Not only does that take money out of our county, but it puts a strain on the transportation system.
“Now you’re talking about an employer with a good median income, where people can buy homes, they can put food on the table for their family, and keep these jobs local.”
Wagners was reportedly looking at several locations around the country, including Parker County, when the pandemic hit, stalling talks and causing travel limitations. Garrett said EDC Executive Director Patrick Lawler, lawmakers and officials were instrumental in helping everything come together.
The city of Cresson approved the project zoning at its March 23 city council meeting and the company began pushing dirt on the new facility, located on 12 acres, in mid-April.
“Our goal is to make Parker County a sustainable economy on its own without having to depend on everything to the east,” Garrett said. “[The EDC] has several things in the hopper and we appreciate all of the members of the board and council’s support.”
For more information visit www.WagnersCFT.com.