Volume 19, Issue 50 - Friday, December 17, 2021
By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc.
The pandemic forced communities in America to mandate lengthy periods of social distancing. Now that the mandates have lessened, city and state officials are eager to fund projects designed to bring people back together. Large initiatives to construct sports stadiums, event centers, and municipal buildings are being launched with great enthusiasm.

The state of New York recently funded a feasibility study to explore options for relocating the Buffalo Bills football team. The study concluded by suggesting two possible sites in the Buffalo area for a new stadium capable of seating 60,000 people. Both site options carry a projected cost of more than $1 billion. State officials hope to conclude the decision-making phase soon and issue solicitation documents for contractors in January 2022.

FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies, a biologics development and manufacturing company, announced on December 14 that it will invest $300 million to expand its single-use manufacturing campus in College Station.

The company will add approximately 138,000 square feet to the existing campus, growing the site to 300,000 square feet and doubling the company’s advanced therapy and vaccine manufacturing capacity in the U.S.

The new commercial manufacturing facility, which is expected to be operational by 2024, will house multiple 500-liter and 2,000-liter bioreactors and associated purification equipment deploying single-use technology.

This investment is supported by a $1.5 million Texas Enterprise Fund Award to support the creation of approximately 150 skilled positions.

FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies is a partnership between the FUJIFILM and Mitsubishi corporations. The world-leading Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization (CDMO) develops and manufactures recombinant biopharmaceuticals and viral gene therapies.
A citizen advisory committee in Mansfield is recommending the city call a May 2022 bond election for $148.5 million in proposed capital projects.

The committee made its final recommendations to the City Council at its December 13 meeting that included:
  • $78 million for a multigenerational center housing a library, recreation, events, aquatics, and fitness center. 
  • $30 million for a new Southwest Community Park. 
  • $25 million for upgrades to Skinner Sports Complex. 
  • $10.5 million to expand Walnut Creek and Pond Branch linear trails. 
  • $5 million to build a Miracle League baseball field. 

In his presentation to councilmembers, the committee chairman also recommended that each project be a separate proposition on the ballot, with the exception of combining the southwest park and sports complex upgrades projects in one proposition.

From early September through early December, staff presented various concepts in detail with cost analyses. During that process, the committee removed a proposed $40 million town center and $7 million veterans memorial from the project list.

The City Council must call for a May 2022 bond election by February 18, 2022 in order for it to appear on the ballot.
UTSA is inviting vendors to attend a virtual pre-submittal conference at 9 a.m. December 21 for architectural and engineering services for a new Basketball and Volleyball Training Facility (BVTF) to support the teams' entry into the American Athletic Conference in Division 1.

The BVTF will be located adjacent to the recently completed Roadrunner Athletic Center of Excellence (RACE) on the west part of campus, and will house the daily operations of the men’s and women’s basketball and the women’s volleyball programs.

Preliminary plans call for a 50,000-square-foot, two-story facility that provides all practice facility amenities associated with top-tier NCAA Division 1 basketball and volleyball programs. Each program will have its own practice court, team locker room with shower space, film review room, team lounge area, and program office spaces for coaching staff.

Other features will include a sky bridge connecting the BVTF and RACE and tilt wall construction.

Following UTSA’s Campus Master Plan, the facility project will include the extension of the West Paseo and utility infrastructure.

The construction cost limit for this project is $20.5 million. Construction is scheduled from December 2022 to February 2024.
Paulette Guajardo
Mayor, City of Corpus Christi
Public career highlights and education: In Corpus Christi, I am focused on ushering in a new era of progress. Before being elected mayor, I served as a City Council member at-large from 2016-2020. As mayor of the eighth-largest city in Texas, I am a member of Big City Mayors, which is a group of mayors from the 15 largest cities in Texas, and I am president of Region 11 of the Texas Municipal League. Finally, I am honored to have been selected as a member of the fifth class of the Bloomberg Harvard Bloomberg City Leadership Initiative.

What I like best about public service is: As mayor, I have the great responsibility of serving the people of Corpus Christi, Texas, directly, every single day. Every day I focus on the needs of my constituents, and my job is to improve the quality of life for Corpus Christi residents. I make an effort to move the needle and make progress on that goal daily. I have been committed, since Day 1, to be a listener to the needs of the people, and that is exactly what I have done.

The best advice I’ve received is: To remain focused on faith, family, and service to others. These are values that I live by and dedicate my life to.

My favorite way to de-stress is: Spending time with my husband, Victor, my son, Jude, and my dog, JJ. I do believe that staying active and fit helps with stress relief as well. Running keeps me relaxed and because of that I wanted to share the same feeling with residents of Corpus Christi, which is why I created a monthly community run called We Run this City 5K.

People might be surprised to know that I: Owned a successful small business when I was 24 years old and sold it before I ran for office. I understand the challenges of small business owners, and I am very committed to their success.

One thing I wish more people knew about the city of Corpus Christi is: Corpus Christi is extraordinary in our natural resources. We are the Gulf Coast Capital and are focusing on spreading the word about our great outdoor and watersport activities such as fishing, windsurfing, kayaking, sea turtle release program, and so much more!
The city of Galveston soon will conduct a needs assessment and develop a request for proposals (RFP) for a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.

Consultants will assist the city with establishing a proposed project plan, cost estimates, and timeline as Galveston determines how to proceed with procuring a new system.

The city’s current ERP software features:
  • General ledger and financial reporting. 
  • Human resources and payroll. 
  • Purchasing and accounts payable. 
  • Cash receipts and accounts receivable. 
  • Budget, position control, and capital planning. 
  • Job cost and contract management. 
  • Grant accounting. 
  • Asset management. 

City officials will be considering all business processes, user feedback, existing use of its ERP application, and other applications the city uses that may be well suited for an ERP environment along with data and benchmarks of what municipalities of its size are using today.
Amarillo councilmembers on December 14 authorized the sale of $23.9 million in bonds to fund the renovation of Amarillo Hardware into a new City Hall.

Earlier this year, the City Council had approved the sale of $35 million in certificates of obligation to fund the project, but a lawsuit delayed that action until the case was dismissed.

Under the new financing plan, the city intends to supplement bond funds with money from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to lessen the tax burden on citizens.

At the November 9 City Council meeting, staff presented councilmembers with options for renovating the existing City Hall building, renovating an existing city-owned building as City Hall, or constructing a new building as City Hall.

The City Council also was presented with various funding options to pay for renovations or new construction for City Hall. At this meeting, councilmembers directed staff to prepare funding options for the renovation of Amarillo Hardware, an existing city-owned building, as City Hall. Council also instructed staff to evaluate and present alternate funding options to reduce the property tax impact of the project.

Assistant City Manager Laura Storrs said access to these funds allows the city to begin work on the renovation project almost immediately or after the holiday season.
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) will distribute about $38 million in funding to eligible rural hospitals under the Rural Hospital COVID-19 in Healthcare Relief Grant (RH-CHRG) program.

Each hospital will receive $250,000 in discretionary funds for staffing, infrastructure, or revenue losses related to the pandemic.

HHSC will administer grant agreements to the legally authorized representatives of the approximately 150 eligible rural hospitals in January 2022, and they will have 15 business days to sign the agreement. Six months after the award, grantees must submit documentation to HHSC regarding how they used the funds.

Separately, Texas rural hospitals, nursing facilities, community attendants, home health agencies, and other long-term care providers will have the opportunity to apply for $325.3 million in competitive grants in early 2022. Information about the competitive request for applications will be posted to the HHSC website as soon as it becomes available.

Funds for the grant programs were authorized as part of SB 8 during the third special session of the 87th Legislature. The money comes from the Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund established under the American Rescue Plan Act.
The city of Conroe and the Conroe Industrial Development Corporation (CIDC) agreed to fund up to $34 million to upgrade the Oscar Johnson Jr. Community Center.

Construction is expected to begin in mid-2022 on an 80,000-square-foot facility on 25 acres at Foster Drive.

Amenities will include event space, a fitness center, and areas for child care.

The city commissioned a feasibility study in 2014 to understand the center’s operations and needs, the community’s demands, demographic trends, and recommendations for future action.

At the time, patron usage had increased by 185 percent from 2009 to 2014. The study noted that no expansion had occurred during that period.

Conroe is expected to close the sale of certificates of obligation in February 2022 to fund its portion of the project.
The North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) will receive more than $39.61 million in state financial assistance to design and build a new wastewater interceptor pipeline to provide adequate capacity to serve the growing needs of the cities of Forney, Heath, and Rockwall.

At its December 16 meeting, the Texas Water Development Board approved $38.61 million in financing and $1 million in principal forgiveness from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund for construction of the pipeline.

The NTMWD proposes to expand its Buffalo Creek Interceptor System wastewater facilities by constructing approximately 10,300 linear feet of 72-inch gravity interceptor line between the western side of Kaufman County and the eastern side of Dallas County, crossing the East Fork of the Trinity River.

Design work is scheduled to start in March 2022 with construction completion anticipated in January 2024.
The University of North Texas Health Science Center (UNTHSC) will host a pre-bid meeting at 10 a.m. January 5, 2022 in advance of procuring programming and design services for the Everett Education and Administration (EAD) Building. Following the meeting, UNTHSC will conduct a site visit on January 7, 2022.

This project will be a renovation of at least 25,000 square feet in the EAD Building. The renovated area will provide space for the Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning Consortium to Advance Health Equity and Researcher Diversity (AIM-AHEAD) Institute to support the research activities associated with a recently awarded grant.

The renovation will feature a new space layout to accommodate the Institute and a modern work environment offering collaboration space, a variety of meeting spaces, and offices for general university use. Also included are HVAC and electrical upgrades, new finishes and furnishings, and restroom renovations.

UNTHSC may elect to extend the services of the selected firm to include the design, bidding assistance, and construction administration phases. It is currently anticipated that the project will be delivered via construction manager at risk.
The city of Jasper is preparing a request for proposals (RFP) to build a city-owned fiber network after receiving the results of a broadband feasibility study on December 13.

Consultants presented the findings of the study which recommended an underground network with 1 gigabyte upload and download speeds at competitive rates for the public.

They anticipated it would take at least 12 months to build a network that would cover the entire city limits.
Two Texas institutions of higher education are finalists in the $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge offered by the Economic Development Administration (EDA).

Lamar State College (LSC) and The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) will be among 60 finalists competing for a chance to earn $100 million to develop and strengthen their regional industry clusters.

The effort by a coalition of Lamar State College campuses to address the nursing shortage in Southeast and Deep East Texas helped it earn a finalist position from a pool of 529 applicants.

If provided an implementation grant, the coalition proposes to enhance specific facilities to allow for advanced nursing education and open others for nursing clinical placements for the first time.

The West Texas Aerospace and Defense Manufacturing Coalition, led by UTEP, aims to bridge the gap in America's aerospace and defense manufacturing capabilities by developing the El Paso Makes Advanced District and West Texas Advanced Technology Corridor. The coalition proposes investments that would reinvent West Texas’ historical roots in manufacturing and help close America’s gap in aerospace and defense manufacturing capabilities.

Finalists will now compete for Phase 2 of the challenge, which will award 20 to 30 regional coalitions up to $100 million to implement 3-8 projects that support an industry sector. The deadline for Phase 2 is March 15, 2022.

In the first round of the challenge, the 60 finalists will each receive a grant of approximately $500,000 to further develop their proposed projects.
The Richardson City Council selected Don Magner as the new city manager, effective March 1, 2022. He will succeed City Manager Dan Johnson who will retire in February 2022. 

Magner is currently Richardson’s deputy city manager. Over his more than 25 years of service with the city, he has been tapped for roles in human resources, building inspection, community services, and development services. 
The city of Sachse promoted Lauren Rose to the newly created role of assistant city manager. 

Rose is currently serving as Sachse’s director of strategic services. Before that, she served as strategic services manager for the city, where she was assistant to the city manager. She also was assistant to the city manager and management analyst for the city of Mesquite. 
The city of College Station named Emily Fisher as director of public works, effective December 20. She will succeed Public Works Director Donald Harmon who retired in April. 

Fisher most recently served as assistant director of capital projects for College Station. Before that, she was the assistant city engineer for College Station and project manager at an engineering firm in Houston. 
The Levelland ISD board of trustees selected Rebecca McCutchen as the district’s new superintendent, effective January 17, 2022. 

McCutchen is currently serving as superintendent of Alpine ISD. Before that, she was director of special education and an educational diagnostician with Alpine ISD. 
The city of New Braunfels selected Sandy Paulos as its new director of finance. Paulos, who has been the assistant director of finance, takes over the position from Jared Werner, who was recently promoted to assistant city manager. 

She previously served as an accounting supervisor for both the city of New Braunfels and New Braunfels Utilities, as the director of finance for the city of Converse, and as manager of treasury for San Antonio Water Systems. 
Western Governors University (WGU) appointed Manuel Gonzalez as regional director of WGU Texas and South region. 

Prior to joining WGU, Gonzalez served as the director of the Community College Association of Texas Trustees. He also has worked with the Texas Legislature, the White House Domestic Policy Council, and as policy director of Student Advocates for Graduate Education. 
The U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) awarded $12.6 million in grants on December 10 to nine marine highway projects across the nation under the America’s Marine Highway Program (AMHP).

Grant funding will help address supply chain disruptions, enhance the movement of goods along navigable waterways, and expand existing waterborne freight services in Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, New York, New Jersey, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

Chambers County Improvement District No. 1 in Texas will use $3 million in AMHP funding toward the purchase of two purpose-built barges. These vessels will allow the district to transport up to 56,000 containers annually to and from the surrounding ports.

The district will move cargo by barge through the M-146 and M-10 Marine Highways approximately 25 miles, connecting Chambers County to the Houston Ship Channel and Port of Houston.

This service substantially reduces the length and number of the heavyweight freight trips on interstates 146 and 10, thus easing congestion, reducing emissions and creating an alternative cargo transfer option.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced these appointments and reappointments from December 10-16:

Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response 
Duke Appiah - Lubbock 
John Scott - Fort Worth 
Marc Williams - Austin 

Center for Advanced Multimodal Mobility Solutions and Education – Analysis of Intermodal Vessel-to-Rail Connectivity 
Dozens of public-sector jobs are available. Click here to view all job openings and guidelines for job submissions to SPI. New jobs added this week:

Texas Health and Human Services Commission - Communications Director

Texas Department of Motor Vehicles - Director of Auditing

Texas Department of State Health Services - Senior Advisor

Office of the Texas Governor - Programmer III-IV

Texas Department of Transportation - Business Analyst IV

Treasury Safekeeping Trust Company - Programmer

Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts - Tax Compliance Analyst

City of Fort Worth - City Auditor
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