Volume 21, Issue 5 - February 3, 2023

New funding and tax incentives are available to ensure the preservation of America’s historic properties
By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc.

The federal government is using an interesting combination of well-funded grant programs and attractive tax incentives to ensure that America’s historical legacy is preserved. The plan is working… and hundreds of historical renovation and enhancement projects are in planning or design phases throughout the country.

Here’s how one funding program works. The U.S. Department of Interior’s National Park Service is responsible for designating certain sites as historically significant. Once that designation is made, the site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and then it becomes eligible for public funding. There are strict guidelines associated with the designation process, and one rule stipulates that any addition to the list must be at least 50 years old and hold a connection to the country’s historic heritage. Projects to repair, rehabilitate, redevelop and/or enhance historically designated properties are becoming common. Abundant funding and attractive tax incentives will ensure that these types of contracting opportunities will continue for the next several years.

One of the principal drivers behind preservation efforts is the Federal Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit. A 20% federal income tax credit is available to private sector investors in public projects if the goal is to rehabilitate properties listed on the National Register. The tax credit has been especially effective at fostering partnerships with private developers for adaptive reuse projects.. 

Click here for more

Texas awarded $363M in federal grants for broadband 

The U.S. Department of Treasury approved broadband projects in Texas, Alabama, Kentucky and Nevada under the American Rescue Plan Capital Projects Fund (CPF). The CPF will award $10 billion to state, territory and tribal governments for projects that promote work, education and health monitoring in light of a public health emergency, like COVID-19.  

Texas will receive $363 million for broadband infrastructure to fund the Bringing Online Opportunities to Texans (BOOT) Program. BOOT will fund last-mile broadband infrastructure to connect an estimated 152,000 locations to high-speed internet. The program will serve locations in historically disadvantaged areas and offer affordable service options. The BOOT program will accept applications for broadband expansion projects in the spring of 2023.  

Qualified projects fall under the following criteria:  

  • Must be in an area considered eligible by the Texas Broadband Development Office 
  • Will invest to directly enable work, education and health monitoring. 
  • Will be designed to address a critical need that was made or worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic. 
      Royse City ISD voters to consider $863M bond

Voters in the Royse City Independent School District (RCISD) will decide on an $863 million bond package in May. The proposed bond will provide for multiple new campuses and improvements to address enrollment growth.  

Voters will be asked to decide on two propositions. Proposition A will invest $850 million to build a high school, middle school, three elementary schools and an early childhood development center. It will also cover renovations and expansions to Royse City High School, including a fine arts facility, turf fields, a new Epps Education Service Center, a transportation center, a distribution center, improved security and land for future development.  

Proposition B will use $13 million to cover RCISD Stadium improvements including a new locker room, additional bathrooms, expanded parking, added bleacher seating and an additional entrance and exit.  

Public presentations and detailed information will be available in the coming weeks, according to district officials.

Houston Spaceport releases plans for Phase 2 development

The Houston Spaceport plans to add new tenants and release plans for a customer-focused Phase 2 development. The spaceport launches and lands suborbital, reusable launch vehicles as well as office spaces located on the southeast side of Ellington Airport. 

Currently, the spaceport has leased land to three major tenants that are in different stages of construction with one already in operation. Those include a commercial space station company, a space exploration company and a technology corporation that supplies aerospace and defense products. It has two other large prospects looking at the spaceport as a potential site that could see $4 billion in contracts. 

Phase 2 includes a couple of large additions to the spaceport’s infrastructure. The most significant being a full-length taxiway over 8,000 feet long to be constructed along Runway 4-22. This will open over 120 acres on the air side for development and connect the spaceport and the airport. 

Houston Spaceport officials plan to select a contractor for the $150 million project by March with an estimated completion date for the taxiway by 2024. Future plans include developing the entire site and introducing hotels, education expansion and infrastructure such as roads.

(Photo: Courtesy of the Houston Airport System.) 

Saluting Texas Lone Stars

Kenny Wright

Chief Process Improvement Officer

Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation

Public career highlights and education: After working in the private sector for many years, I joined the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) and have been here almost eight years. I have a Master of Business Administration with a focus in Project Management from Liberty University.

What I like best about my public service is: Knowing that TDLR provides excellent customer service to Texans who are obtaining licenses to work in professions that help their fellow Texans. All of our employees work each day to help Texans obtain meaningful employment – and ensure the health and safety of the people those licensees serve. 

The best advice I’ve received is: I’ve received so much great advice, I can’t choose just one. Here are my favorites: Don't dress for the position you have today, dress for the position you inspire to attain; comparison is the thief of joy; don’t miss the opportunity to appreciate where you are at in your professional and personal life; and be your own advocate -- no one is going to advocate for you as strongly as you can for yourself.

People might be interested to know that: I am an avid quilter, knitter, crocheter, weaver and sewer.

One thing I wished more people knew about the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation is: TDLR and our licensees have a major impact on the state of Texas. No matter who you are, or where you live, TDLR is a part of your day. We license 37 different professions and services, including electricians, barbers and cosmetologists, air conditioning and heating contractors, elevators, motor fuel metering and quality, podiatrists…the list goes on. Our licensees contribute to the vitality of the Texas economy and we’re proud to serve them.

Comal ISD progresses toward finalizing 2023 bond

The Comal ISD Board of Trustees is moving forward with finalizing propositions that will be included in the 2023 bond. Originally $588 million, the package has grown by $20 million but will not pose any additional money for taxpayers. The bond package prioritizes district growth, safety and security, infrastructure and technology. 

Proposition A consists of three elementary schools and one middle school. Obtaining land would cost $28 million to anticipate future campus needs for one new elementary school, one middle school and a high school. An additional $16 million would fund safety and security throughout the district as well as 40 new school buses. Also proposed in Proposition A are athletic facilities including tennis courts at Davenport High School and renovations to the Smithson Valley High School baseball field. 

Proposition B could potentially fund additional improvements to athletic facilities for high schools in the district. Proposition C, totaling nearly $9 million, may consist of bleacher replacements and expansion at Davenport and Canyon Lake high schools. Proposition D would fund technology equipment throughout the district including updates to classroom AV devices, technology devices for students and faculty and enhanced Wi-Fi. 

$700M in bond propositions up for vote by Irving ISD voters

The Irving Independent School District will bring a $700 million bond proposal to voters to replace schools and update facilities.  

The bond is comprised of five propositions. The majority of the funding is for Proposition A which will use approximately $539 million to replace two elementary schools and a middle school, renovate 32 schools, add two employee childcare centers, a career and technology education center, state-mandated security upgrades and fine arts transportation and equipment.  

More projects to be funded include $18 million in new technology, replacing the Student Transportation and Logistics Center for $17 million, investing $45 million to build three new indoor practice and JROTC facilities and an $83 million performing arts center.  

Irving ISD voters can decide on the five propositions separately beginning with early voting opening on April 24.

Guadalupe River Authority seeking funds for community center

The Guadalupe River Center Foundation is in its first phase of fundraising for a community center that includes a marina with rental kayaks, sailboats and paddleboats, three classrooms, a community gathering place, and a full commercial kitchen and a coffee bar. The foundation wants to raise $13.5 million by selling the naming rights to portions of the center. Approximately $10 million will fund the building’s construction and early months of operation. 

The planned 13,732-square-foot building located on the banks of Nimitz Lake will be utilized for education, conservation and recreation. An 80-foot-wide boat ramp and ADA compliant piers will benefit Schreiner University students if a proposed sailing certification course is offered.  

The project will likely take 18 to 24 months to complete, and planners are working alongside the authority to ensure the building is constructed in a sustainable way.

(Photo: Rendering of the proposed community center. Courtesy of the Guadalupe River Center Foundation.)

City of Houston receives $28M to improve safety on Bissonnet Street

The city of Houston has been awarded $28.7 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation to enhance safety measures on the seven-mile section of Bissonnet Street from S. Dairy Ashford Road to Hillcroft Avenue. The project will help reduce traffic deaths and serious injuries along the corridor. Upgrades are scheduled to start in 2025 and should be completed by 2028.  

The project will install enhanced crosswalks, rectangular rapid-flashing beacons, pedestrian hybrid beacons, lighting and pedestrian refuge islands to address pedestrian safety problems. The project will also create dedicated turn lanes at intersections and roundabouts, improve corridor access and construct bicycle facilities. 

The funding was secured through the Safe Streets and Roads for All program. Houston is one of more than 500 recipients of $800 million in grant awards. Texas awardees also included the city of Austin, which received $22.8 million for the safe and equitable mobility project for Austin. The city of San Antonio was awarded $4.4 million for the Zarzamora Street mid-block crossings and high-injury network safety campaigns.

Port of Corpus Christi obtains second permit for Harbor Island proposal

Port of Corpus Christi commissioners voted to obtain the second permit to operate its Harbor Island plant. This decision comes after reconsidering application fees associated with the port’s primary desalination proposal. 

Port officials paid $62,025 in permitting fees to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) which kicked off the process to seek permission to intake seawater for the proposed 50 million-gallon-per-day facility. The port will see a water rights or intake permit. This is only one of two permits needed to establish such a facility. In September, the TCEQ granted the port a wastewater discharge permit. 

These are the latest efforts at building marine desalination facilities. The port and the city of Corpus Christi have sought their own permits and plans separately. Water desalination is a method of purifying seawater for civil and commercial consumption. This commercial reverse osmosis process filters saltwater through membranes that separate the water from the oceanic contaminants. The leftover solution is called “brine” and is dumped back into the ocean. 

There are four other desalination projects in the area, two from the city and one more by the port. Another is in the planning process with a plastic resin manufacturer. 

The Port of Corpus Christi is the closest of the two entities to breaking ground.

(Photo: Harbor Island. Courtesy of Port of Corpus Christi.)

Texas parks receive $10M for enhancements/renovations

The Texas Parks & Wildlife Local Park Grant Program has awarded 20 local governments approximately $10 million to enhance parks. The grants will add trails, playgrounds, dog parks, accessibility improvements and other amenities to parks. 

The grants were awarded in three categories by population. Urban outdoor recreation grants are awarded to communities with more than 500,000 people, non-urban outdoor recreation grants are for communities with fewer than 500,000 people and small community recreation grants go to towns with a population of fewer than 20,000.  

El Paso County was awarded a $1.5 million urban outdoor grant for the Horizon View Park project. This includes development of an inclusive playground, multi-sports court, soccer fields and accessible outdoor fitness equipment. Additional improvements include a hike-and-bike trail, covered picnic areas, native landscaping and sidewalks.  

Cameron County Parks and Recreation received a $750,000 non-urban outdoor grant for the Bejarano-McFarland Memorial Park improvement project. Developments include a splash pad, walking trail, covered basketball court and restroom improvements.  

The city of Kaufman was awarded a $750,000 non-urban outdoor grant for the Freedom Tree Park project. Proposed enhancements include trails, an accessible playground, native landscaping and park amenities. 

The city of Missouri City will spend its $750,000 non-urban outdoor grant for its Freedom Tree Park project. Proposed developments include a playground, pergola, multi-use trail, labyrinth, interpretive signage, native landscaping, site amenities and site work. 

Applications for local park grants are due annually on Aug. 1. 

(Photo: Courtesy of Texas Parks & Wildlife.) 

Watkins sheds interim status at CapMetro

The Capital Metropolitan (CapMetro) Transportation Authority Board of Directors voted Jan. 30 to hire Dorothy “Dottie” Watkins as president and chief executive officer (CEO). Watkins had served as interim president and CEO of Capital Metro since May. The board of directors appointed her after the transit agency’s last leader, Randy Clarke, left to lead the transit system in Washington, D.C.

Starting out as a bus operator and advancing her way through the ranks, Watkins has worked for the transit agency for more than three decades. Watkins was recently profiled as one of our Texas Lone Stars available to view here.

ATP chooses Canally as executive director

The Austin Transit Partnership’s (ATP) Interim Executive Director Greg Canally has been named the lone finalist for the official position.

Canally has served in an interim capacity since Randy Clarke resigned last May to take a job in Washington, D.C. Prior to taking over as interim executive director, Canally was the agency’s chief financial officer and chief development officer. 

President/CEO to retire from Metro in December

Houston's METRO President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tom Lambert has announced plans to retire from the agency Dec. 31, 2023, after negotiating an extension of his current contract. Lambert began serving in this position in 2013. 

Lambert joined METRO in 1979, its first full year of operation. Following the creation of the METRO Police Department in 1982, Lambert became its first chief of police. He has also served as chief administrative officer and executive vice president.  

Lambert is currently overseeing the implementation of a $7.5 billion voter-approved plan which includes 500 miles of travel improvements including new METRORapid bus rapid transit projects, BOOST enhancements to high frequency bus routes and upgrades to 9,000 bus stops to meet ADA standards.

Neeb chosen as Laredo city manager 

The city of Laredo has selected Joseph Neeb as its new city manager. Neeb has 25 years of experience in public service. His most recent position was city manager of Roswell, N.M.

It has been almost six months since the position was last filled by Interim City Manager Samuel Selman who resigned from his position in July 2022. He had taken the place of former City Manager Robert Eads who resigned in January 2022. 

Moreno to lead Somerset ISD

The Somerset Independent School District board has picked Jose H. Moreno as the next superintendent to replace Superintendent Saul Hinojosa.

Hinojosa announced his retirement from the position last summer after 15 years. Moreno is the lone finalist for the position and the school board must wait 21 days before taking a vote to make the official hire.

He has served as superintendent of Robstown Independent School District since August 2018.

City of Canyon hires economic development director

Officials with the city of Canyon and the Canyon Economic Development Corporation (CEDC) recently announced Stephanie Tucker as the economic development director of the CEDC.

Most recently, Tucker was general manager and vice president of marketing at a health and wellness service. She and her spouse also owned and operated an indoor football team since 2011. 

$21M budgeted for McAllen City Hall expansion

The McAllen City Commission voted to budget $21 million to expand City Hall. The expansion would involve building an approximately 45,000-square-foot annex behind the current building. The annex would be five stories tall with a parking area on the ground floor and four additional floors of office space. 

 Other projects may include remodeling the existing building, moving the City Commission chamber to the ground floor and restricting public access to parts of the building where employees work. 

In December, the City Commission approved a $40,000 contract with an architectural services firm to conduct a feasibility study with construction possibly starting within the next two years. The $21 million funding was recommended to come from the city’s General Fund, but the exact cost would not be known until the project is finalized. 

(Photo: McAllen City Hall. Courtesy of the city of McAllen.)

El Paso County approves $59M in obligation bonds

On Jan. 30, El Paso County Commissioners approved the use of $59 million in certificates of obligation bonds (COB). This non-voter approved debt will fund projects in a major capital plan.  

A project included in the plan is repairs to the Juvenile Detention Facility. The roof is in poor condition and if not repaired soon the facility risks losing its accreditation. This project falls under public safety and has a running list of other needs such as repairing the HVAC system at the jail and replacing intercom and surveillance systems. Funds also would cover construction at the El Paso Medical Examiner’s Office.  

Other needed upgrades are renovations at the Manny Martinez Annex, a buildout for the fifth floor of the courthouse, an expansion of the employee clinic in the courthouse and property acquisition for the Sheriff's Department. 

According to the county, the financial plan is not projected to raise the county's current tax rate. 

County officials explained the use of certificates of obligation did not need to be approved by voters because the money would be used for emergencies, such as needed infrastructure.


Gov. Greg Abbott announced these appointments and reappointments from Jan. 27 through Feb. 2:

Humanities Texas

Trasa Cobern - Hurst

Stacey Neal Combest - Huntsville

April Graham - Houston

Elizabeth Johnson - Harlingen

Amanda Nobles - Longview

Ellen K. Ramsey - Midland (reappointed)

Connect with Us

Check out our

social media links!

Facebook  Linkedin  
Help us share this message.
To ensure delivery and proper formatting of the newsletter, be sure to add editor@spartnerships.com to your safe senders list. Otherwise, the newsletter may be flagged as spam and automatically routed to your junk e-mail folder.

 For news or calendar items: editor@spartnerships.com 

For information about SPI's products and services: sales@spartnerships.com

© 2023 Strategic Partnerships, Inc. All rights reserved.