Nederland City Council weighs in on Jack Brooks Regional Airport development incentive package

Published 12:36 am Tuesday, December 7, 2021


That was the answer when Nederland City Councilman Billy Neal asked developer Henry LaBrie when work would begin in earnest at Jack Brooks Regional Airport.

LaBrie is heading up the Mid-County Plaza project and said he is waiting on an engineering issue to get worked out with the Federal Aviation Administration and Jefferson County in order to begin development.

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“We should have it resolved this week,” LaBrie told the Nederland City Council early Monday evening.

The question was the only one posed and responded to before city council members voted unanimously to approve a $300,000 incentive package for the Mid-County Plaza project that was originally approved by the Nederland Economic Development Corporation.

The city council will vote again on the incentive package in two weeks, which will be the last governmental step needed to complete the incentive pledge.

Discussion about the project wasn’t really necessary Monday because LaBrie previously appeared before the city council twice in 2021 seeking a non-binding pledge of support for the development, which he secured this summer.

According to information presented to the Nederland EDC, LaBrie intends to build a 60,000-square-feet retail center, which would include five buildings totaling 12,000 square feet each.

This effort is projected to cost $35.6 million and create 70 direct jobs and 15.5 part-time jobs.

Should LaBrie meet the benchmarks listed above within a two-and-a-half-year timeline, he would receive $300,000 in incentives from the Nederland Economic Development Corporation.

The $300K total would match the highest amount ever awarded by the EDC.

The many acres of largely undeveloped grass land fronting U.S. 69 offer curb appeal to a major thoroughfare and unique access to the airport.

EDC Executive Director Kay DeCuir previously told Port Arthur Newsmedia that incentive funds would be provided once buildings are built, jobs are in place and the locations leased out.

DeCuir stressed the EDC does not pay for business shells, noting previous developers have created shopping center frames without tenants and incorrectly expected incentive funds.

Project leaders, every quarter, file a sales tax report with the state of Texas. That information will also be sent to the Nederland EDC to evaluate.