The Tomball Economic Development Corp., which focuses on economic development efforts in the city, is celebrating 30 years this year.

The corporation was first established in November 1994 and is governed by a board of directors appointed by Tomball City Council. Funded by a half-cent sales tax, some of its economic development efforts include the Tomball Business and Technology Park as well as various business grants.

“It’s not a very common organization to understand,” TEDC Executive Director Kelly Violette said. “And I feel like it’s really taken 30 years to build our identity as a standalone organization.”

Looking back

The TEDC was created pursuant to the Texas Development Corporation Act of 1979, according to its website. Violette said several citizens, including banker Steve Vaughan, spearheaded the effort to create the TEDC.

“[Vaughan] was a banker; he’s paying attention to what’s going on; he’s looking at this community, and also, he really had a pulse on the businesses, the activity,” Violette said. “So he was really the one that had the foresight to reach out to the city, to really start going, ‘Hey, we have an opportunity here.’”

After its creation, the TEDC focused most of its early efforts on infrastructure, Violette said. It helped to fund some walking trails around Lone Star College-Tomball; road projects, such as Mechanic Street; and utilities along Holderrieth and Hufsmith-Kohrville roads.

“Again, [it was] really setting that stage and planning for growth and development,” Violette said.

The impact

The TEDC funds its projects and grants with a half-cent sales tax, which over the year equates to around $4.5-$5 million, Violette said.

“Having the funds to actually do projects that are meaningful, that are based on the needs of this community, that are based on looking at the long-term vision, not based on profit—we have that really unique ability as an EDC here to do that,” Violette said.

Last May, the corporation sold the final lot in one of its biggest ventures, the Tomball Business & Technology Park. The property the park sits on was purchased in 2011, and since its first lot sold in 2015, the development has created over 500 jobs and generated more than $85 million in capital investment, Community Impact previously reported.

On the grants side, the TEDC’s offerings include grants to help businesses lease space in the city, fund infrastructure or business improvements, or with projects that create or retain primary jobs. All of the corporation’s grants are performance-based, and the grant is not paid out until after a business fulfills its obligations.

Last December, with the help of a $47,614 TEDC grant, Lone Star College-Tomball Community Library renovated its teen space, which now features new technology, moveable furniture and a digital table.

“We’re at a point where we’ve established our presence enough that people generally know who we are,” Violette said. “And to me, that’s huge, and that’s a reflection of the amount of things that we’ve been able to do.”

Going forward

The TEDC has several projects in the works, including helping fund the city’s alleyway project, redeveloping the First Baptist Church Tomball campus it purchased last April and building out the South Live Oak Industrial Park. The corporation is also planning to launch a summer youth employment program this year that will reimburse Tomball companies for hiring up to two summer interns over a seven-week period.

“It’s incredible to me to sit back and go, ‘Look at all of this coming together,’” Violette said. “Yes, we’re going to have challenges, but if you step back a little bit and you see all of these things coming together and the synergy that’s there, it’s such an exciting time to be in Tomball.”

Violette said the TEDC is still in the early stages of redeveloping the First Baptist Church site, working with their architect team and meeting with potential stakeholders to discuss options for what it could be.

“To me, it’s an overall complex,” Violette said. “So the whole thing needs to be organized and needs to have an operator for it to really, in my mind, function the way we envision it to function.”

As for the South Live Oak Industrial Park, Violette said the TEDC has been meeting with developers as it forms the concept for what it should be.

“What I would say we are really looking for is the right partner that sees our vision, that understands that this project is really designed to be a destination, to be something that is going to benefit the Tomball community,” Violette said. “But also fulfill our goals of being a place to help locate businesses.”