DESTINATION: BURLESON (Chapters 1-3)
COPYRIGHT @2017 BURLESON STAR
CHAPTER ONE: BURLESON BRINGS HISTORY, OPPORTUNITY
• Take A Tour Through The ‘Dollars And Sense’ Of The City.
There’s a lot of nostalgia among older Burleson residents for “the good old days” back when life seemed simpler, images appeared more vivid, and ice cold soda pop still was sold in green glass bottles.
“Here’s a question,” Warren Eakin posted on Facebook awhile back. “What is presently the oldest continuously operating business in Burleson? I know Big Four operated over 100 years before it closed. But what is the oldest business today that’s still open?”
The Big Four is a huge factor to remove from that particular equation, noted John Duke Smith, the Burleson Star’s arbiter of all things historical.
For many, many years,the store sold groceries, hardware and implements at 112 South Main Street, where Fresco’s MexicanFood is now located.
According to burlesonhistory.com, Charles C. Taylor and Robert L. Norwood joined with Sam and R.B. Armstrong to become Armstrong, Norwood, and Taylor in 1903.
That name evolved into “the Big Four.”
The Big Four went out of business roughly five years ago, Smith said.
“They had the first gas pump in town,” Smith said. “It was the second oldest family-owned business in Johnson County.”
When asked who holds the record for longest consecutive business, Smith ventured two educated guesses: Either Thomas Conveyor Company founded on April 1, 1953, according to its website) or the Burly Corporation of North America, 754 N. Burleson Boulevard, which evolved from the original company Burly Fence and Hardware established in 1959, according to the Burly Facebook page.
Eakin’s question notwithstanding,it’s important to note there are a lot of good things – great things really – happening in this city of more than 45,000 right now.
Large salary jobs, for instance.
There’s no denying general manager and operation manager positions in Burleson net as much as $82,424 a year.
That’s pretty high on the professional scale.
Also, registered nurses in Burleson are making approximately $65,000 annually. And human resources managers in our city are bringing in $79,750 annually, all according to PayScale.com.
The results are higher than Cleburne’s top safety manager and production supervisor positions totaling $58,500 and $69,141, respectively.
And it certainly comes in ahead of Fort Worth operations manager, mechanical engineer and human resources manager positions – $65,574, $67,392, and $61, 984, respectively.
Everything is connected in this regard.
Burleson Mayor KenShetter – whose political philosophy has always reflected the spirit of Burleson inclusion – emphasized Tuesday that the local economy is great and poised to do well for the foreseeable future.
Shetter said Burleson really comes into focus when you combine the medical sector jobs with the effort the city is making to expand higher education opportunities in the city.
“Cities with strong ‘ed and med’ sectors are some of the best performing cities in the country,” the mayor said. “I think you have to say the future is bright.”
According to city-data.com, Burleson’s estimated median house hold income is on the rise.
In 2015, it was $70,433 – up from $50,432 in 2000.
Also, the 2015 estimated per capita income in Burleson was $30,524, up from $20,175 in 2000.
Burleson home values are also on the increase.
The estimated median home or condo value in 2015 was $153,461, up from $81,800 in 2000.
The U.S. Census population clock notes that we live in a world with one birth every eight seconds, one death every 12 seconds – a gain of one new person every 13 seconds – and one international immigrant (net) every 32 seconds.
It’s in this world that business continues to flock to Burleson.
According to City of Burleson, the following stores recently opened here:
• Chicken E Food Service – 90,000 square feet at HighPoint Business Park including corporate headquarters and food distribution/refrigeration that serves its 200 restaurants.
• AxoGen - A medical device company working on nerve repair technology in a 5,000 square foot corporate operations and distribution center.
• LKQ Corporation -90,000 square foot auto parts distribution and callcenter on Interstate 35W near Bethesda Road.
• Sam’s Club - 136,000square feet of new retail construction on Interstate 35W near State Highway174.
•Residential Construction – comprised of 413 new home permits in 2014 with an average value over $201,000.
Meanwhile, these businesses are under construction in Burleson:
•Wagner-Smith Equipment – Additions are doubling the size of it’s current manufacturing plant and corporate headquarters at HighPoint Business Park to 55,000 square feet.
• Stuart Industries – Corporate headquarters and aerospace parts distribution will be located atHighPoint Business Parkin a 37,000 square feet build-to-suit facility.
• Air Force Airguns- HighPoint Business Park is also home to this manufacturer of precision-controlled airguns.
The 20,000 square foot building will be used for office space, assembly and distribution.
In total, there are 3,033 employers in Burleson.
Meanwhile, there also are, 2,871 veterans, 15,111housing units, and a 92.2percent high school graduation rate.
While our city seems to be leading in the income category, Burleson residents take their own time processing questions about lifestyle, cost of living and potential for income increases in the future.
Some, as mentioned earlier, like to reminisce about times past.
About four years ago, Jesse Garcia asked his fellow Facebook posters if they remembered their very first job in Burleson.
He received 1,019 responses.
“I think my first job was Los Charles, but I also worked at Bill Marties Seafood, Jose’s, Burleson Car Wash, and Albertson’s,” Garcia posted.
Many of the posters miss the simplicity of an old fashioned barber shop.
Larry Robinson recalls shining shoes Art’s BarberShop as young as 13.
“Then many years with Stacy Calvin throwing the Star Telegram,” Robinson stated in his post. “Great memories, simpler times.”
TO BE CONTINUED
‘THERE IS A PLACE FOR YOU HERE’ (Chapter Two)
• The ‘Lure & Allure’ That Attracts People To Burleson
It’s a lovely sentiment for those hoping to find a home in this fair city.
“There is a place for you here.”So said the Mayor Ken Shetter during his State of the City address in January.
During that speech, the mayor was not shy about acknowledging a desire to bolster the city’s business and resident population.
Shetter and Burleson officials in general have made no bones about the fact they are positioning the city for business investment– framing the municipality in a unique and attractive a manner to prepare for the world that’s coming.
During his January comments, the mayor issued an across-the-board invitation to CEOs, entrepreneurs, disabled veterans,public servants, educators and business people. This invitation included the young and young at heart.
Single and married people, students and retirees.This week, the mayor said he stands by those words – as he has for the past three years.
“This is going to sound corny, but it’s true. I think the fact that Burleson is a great place to live and raise a family is the key,” Shetter said Tuesday night. “Like a lot of other cities, we have worked hard to develop attractive economic development incentives, and our investment in the business park and higher education opportunities have been key. These and a streamlined development process have been tremendously important.But at the end of the day, companies want a great place to locate their businesses where their employees can enjoy great quality of life.”
A recent set of interviews with residents and area officials indicates there are a lot of similar ideas about what comprises Burleson’s most unique and attractive qualities to the outsider. The president of theBurleson Chamber of Commerce, for instance, believes a major part of its appeal is the fact that Burleson is a “well kept secret from theMetroplex for those wishing to relocate here.”
Andy Pickens, president of both the chamber and the Burleson ISD SchoolBoard, said people are hard at work trying to keep Burleson appealing to outsiders.
“The aggressive nature of our city leadership attracts these restaurants, businesses and manufacturing companies,” he said.
The city has produced more than $75 million indirect investment development incentives since 2000, city figures show.
That’s more than one thousand jobs.
Teamwork makes such success entirely possible, Pickens said.
People and companies “are in a hurry to get there,” Pickens said “The city works closely with the chamber – from the city people all the way down– and makes Burleson an ideal location for new business.”
The city’s incentives are credited with spurring “millions of dollars of additional retail sales and spurring the revitalization of Old Town Burleson,” city figures posted online state.
These include Chapter 380 Economic Development grants, city and county tax abatements (business property and real property), creation of special taxing districts, fast-track permitting, infrastructure assistance, Type A and Type B sales tax and workforce development assistance.
Katherine Reading, a recently-appointed member of the Burleson Planning & Zoning Commission, said from an economic standpoint, the increasing influx of population to the city is its most attractive lure.
“It is – hands down,” Reading said. “Growth and not over-saturation allows for businesses to introduce attractive business opportunities and become a staple within the community. The first of anything makes a difference. Our location being off I-35 is helpful for all those who travel. Our best bet is increasing the amount of industry and salary jobs within the area.”
Todd Hulsey, a recently-elected member of the Burleson City Council said the answer to “What is most appealing aspect of Burleson” is “all the above.”
“I consider Burleson’s most attractive lure for both people and business is the combination of excellent schools, community livability,and access to the major transportation arteries ofI-35 and the Chisholm Trail Parkway,” the councilman said.
Pamela Smith Masters,who owns the Burleson-based JOCO CommunityRadio, said it is important to acknowledge the hard work Burleson officials are putting into attracting and recruiting people and businesses to town.
“They work with businesses and organizations to create opportunities to engage the community,”Masters said. “Old Town development,for instance, is very appealing to folks who like to have things to do.The business park is helping bring new businesses,which helps create jobs.”
Masters said she also is a fan of the new plaza,which she says should create many opportunities for downtown fun.Tammy Harvey Rhodes of Burleson Rocks – a community kindness group that paints rocks to cheer up residents– had her own explanation for the city’s appeal.
“Burleson is very family oriented,” she said.Burleson Police ChiefBilly Cordell agrees with the others about the proximity of I-35 being a major factor in providing mobility for those who work in FortWorth.
But, the chief added,
Burleson’s infrastructure– grocery stores, shopping venues and restaurants –also plays a big part.
“Shopping and eating are convenient, and of course there’s a low crime rate,” the chief said. “I personally love the citizens ofBurleson and how engaged they are with the city.”
One interesting new incentive to attract people to town is a new local program titled “Burleson Works” – a sister program to the existing Burleson OpportunityFund.
Burleson Works is designed to provide technical assistance for area residents through career education.
“This program wasn’t put together by city officials.
The schools and industry leaders are the ones who put this program together,”explained Alex Phillips, the city of Burleson’s economic development manager, to the Burleson ISD SchoolBoard at a recent meeting.“We are hoping to help build the needed skills though partnerships. Our goal is to… grab the talent here before they leave. There is anonymous amount of talent in town.”
Organization of this program started about half a year ago. It is just about ready to roll out, officials confirmed recently.
Mayor Shetter – a huge proponent of higher education for Burleson residents– has high praise for the initiative.
“We’re making great efforts to expand higher education opportunities in the city,” Shetter said in a recent interview.When speaking before the Burleson ISD school board recently, Phillips emphasized the opportunity afforded by “Burleson Works”will be offered to anyone.
“You don’t have to be a student,” he said.
The focus will fall on people getting out of an established industry who wish to obtain technical schooling and go to work right in Burleson, he said.
Educational initiatives are necessary to fight growth pitfalls such as the dreaded “skills gap,” described as the difference between the skills employers are seeking and the skills available from workers looking for a job.
There are experts who dispute the existence of a skills gap as a national problem.
For instance, Janice Urbanik of Partners for a Competitive Workforce, the umbrella organization for workforce efforts in theCincinnati area, had an earful for the Fiscal Times last year.
“I think [the] ‘skills gap’ has run its course. It’s overhyped and overrated,” she said. “I don’t think it’s the only factor, and to some extent it’s not even the primary factor.”
But Phillips strongly disagrees with that assertion.He predicts this new program will gain a lot of momentum in 2018.
“It isn’t a myth,” he said.“ … The skills gap is real.It is growing. It hasn’t really affected Burleson yet,but it is coming and coming fast. … It’s hard-pressed fora company to hire an engineer within 120 days now.
yet,but it is coming and coming fast. … It’s hard-pressed fora company to hire an engineer within 120 days now. It’s hard pressed for a CMC worker in a manufacturing facility to find a news CMC worker in 180 days. These are great paying jobs that are going unfilled.”
The idea of Burleson being in any kind of danger might seem like a strange thought to many of its residents _ who often cited the strength and vibrancy of the economy.
Indeed, to many residents, Burleson, located within a 15 minute drive time to work, seems to be getting better and better.
Relatively recently, two businesses brought $100 million in capital investment to Burleson in 2016– Hayes & Stolz, the $10 million, 144,000 square-foot building in Highpoint BusinessPark and Arabella at Burleson, a mixed-use development on 95 acres near the intersection of SW Hulen Street and SW Wilshire Boulevard.
There are definite economic problems making their way toward Burleson, conceded Phillips.
Experts say it is important to realize fast-growing Burleson is doing so well – with 65 percent population growth since 2000, $1.2 billion in retail sales annually and a population of 300,000, city statistics show.
In terms of Residential Construction,there were 413 new home permits in 2014 with an average value over $201,000.
Local officials agree that the higher education idea has teeth.
Back at the Aug. 14 BISD meeting, Burleson ISD Superintendent Bret Jimerson indicated much satisfaction with the idea of “Burleson Works” – and ow it is preparing the city for much more complicated times.
“It is just a matter of knowing these opportunities are available, knowing the type of training you need and getting the type of job to provide that help,” Dr. Jimerson said. “This is how we grow our economy locally— with an educated workforce.”'
TO BE CONTINUED
'OUR DAILY BREAD' (CHAPTER THREE)
• Gauging What Residents Earn In The City of Burleson Is An Interesting Exercise
Money isn’t a big motivator for Jennifer Woods. The executive director of Harvest House considers it a blessing that her agency is able to make a difference by helping people in need every day.
Recently, Harvest House was charged with helping 160 people who were refugees from the catastrophic floods of Hurricane Harvey.
As the flood victims were transported to Burleson, Harvest House dispatched vehicles filled with needed supplies toward the flooded areas, Woods said.
Likewise, when the subsequent hurricane hit Florida, Harvest House dispatched another vehicle filled with supplies to help the affected people, Woods said.
"The hurricanes are a larger example of what we do every day – help people in crisis," she said. "It is very exciting that we get to help people like we do. It’s awesome. We’ve been blessed with a plethora of volunteers.”
Though Harvest House is a non-profit, Woods said her annual salary falls in the $40,000 range.
It is important to note that paychecks of Burleson residents are often as diverse as the career paths that lead to them.
For instance, on average, a Burleson cashier makes $8.50 an hour. A Burleson medical assistant makes $11.42 an hour. A Burleson stocker makes $9 an hour, and a Burleson human resources assistant makes $17.10 an hour, according to PayScale.com.
What is the pay scale by experience? It’s $9.50 on average for workers with less than one year on the job. It’s 11.71 an hour for workers with one to four years experience and $19.65 an hour on average for those with 20 years or more on the job.
As far as yearly salaries are concerned, a registered nurse can make $65,000 on average. A maintenance manager can make $75,000 and a middle school teacher $48,500, all according to Payscale.com.
Another breadwinner, Kim Hughes, is a filmmaker, writer and director who considers herself a de facto resident because she spends so much time and money here.
The list of films she has produced include The Jonas Project (2012),The Price (2015), and 1985, (2016).
Hughes said she currently is scouting Burleson for her next film, Billy The Kid Lives. A devout Christian, Hughes said she has been proud to watch Burleson develop over the years.
“My friends are there, my best friend lives there, and I am just so proud of how much it has grown,” she said. “It is a wonderful place and has so much quality. I will be filming Billy the Kid there in six to eight months. I need it to be in Burleson.”
Hughes said she adores her film career, but has also had a rocky financial relationship with it – sinking her money into her projects.
Despite this, Hughes has recouped some of her losses by selling merchandise. She currently makes around $25,000 a year, she said.
Does it pay well to be a Burleson police officer? Burleson Police Chief Billy Cordell said much effort has gone into the pay scale being as fair as possible. He said recruits to his force now initially receive $51,410. Upon graduation, that pay raises to $53,000. After that, the range is ultimately between $53,000 and $72,877.
"The city manager, mayor and council really stepped up this year to make our police officer salaries more competitive,” the chief said. “Recruitment is so much more difficult these days and we need every advantage we can get for good recruits. Our voters pay for the budget. So on behalf of the police, I want to thank them for supporting our department.”
Erick Klein, a nurse at Texas Health Huguley Hospital Fort Worth South, said his 13 years in the profession have been very rewarding.
"Throughout this time, I have noticed a large amount of healthcare professionals who are committed to impacting the lives of our community members in healthy ways, and I’ve enjoyed partnering with them at Texas Health Huguley,” Klein said. “I feel that keeping our community healthy keeps our economy healthy, and I’m proud to play my part in that.”
Klein said he has watched the Burleson area grow and develop, and said opportunities in his field come along with that growth.
“We will eventually need more nurses and other healthcare professionals in our community,” Klein said. “All things considered, I am very grateful and satisfied to be a nurse serving and thriving in Burleson. My ultimate goal is to be an effective healthcare provider to our community members. I recently became a nurse practitioner and I want to serve by utilizing my nurse practitioner license."
Some officials in the medical community are reluctant to list their salary amounts. But according to Payscale.com, a registered nurse position in Burleson can pay between $46,146 and $87,547 annually.
Likewise, some Burleson ISD teachers prefer not to discuss their salaries.
However, according to Ballotopia, the Burleson ISD’s minimum salary for someone with a bachelors degree is $43,200 and the maximum is $67,149.
For someone with a masters, the minimum $44,700 and maximum is $68,64.
Blaze Roles, manager of the Chicken Express restaurant at 130 S.W. Wilshire Boulevard, said he finds his job very rewarding in terms of customer service and efficiency.
"We are very quick at getting food to folks," he said.
Roles said he makes $12.50 an hour – $500 a week when working 40 hours. Brent Weaver, a bagger at City Market, 200 E. Renfro Street, for nearly nine years, also has a wonderful time providing quality customer service.
"My main deal is helping the customers," he said. "Many of them come back because they know we're listening to them and ready to help them.”
Weaver declined to specify what he makes, but said the job starts at minimum wage, $7.25 an hour – $290 a week for a 40 hour workweek – and increases from there.
TO BE CONTINUED ...
h t t p s : / / w w w .burlesontx.com/18/Economic-Development