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First State Bank has added 70 full-time jobs in the last three years, bank CEO Ryan Morris told county commissioners this week.

The bank is inviting the public to an open house and ribbon cutting Saturday, Nov. 2, in its newly built corporate headquarters, which Morris said are fully occupied now.

First State Bank had received a 10-year, 90% tax abatement from the county in 2016 to support the $18 million construction project at the intersection of I-35 and U.S. 82, according to previous Register reports.

The bank needed to add the equivalent of at least 20 full-time jobs by 2022 to comply with the county’s abatement agreement. Morris told commissioners the bank has already surpassed that goal.

“We’ve greatly exceeded the agreement only three years in and are thrilled with the progress that we’ve made,” Morris told county commissioners Monday, Oct. 28. “We are now fully in the new building… everybody that was going to move has moved from our downtown facility to I-35. We’re excited about that.”

First State Bank’s full-time employment at its headquarters and operations center has grown from 75 in 2016 to 128 as of Sept. 10, 2019, according according to a letter Morris gave the Cooke County Commissioners Court at its Oct. 28 regular meeting. Full-time jobs were also added at each of the bank’s branches in downtown Gainesville, on U.S. 82, in Lake Kiowa and in Muenster. Three positions at the bank’s Valley View branch were eliminated.

All told, the additional payroll for the positions across the county amounts to $2.8 million, Morris said, or an average of $40,000 per full-time position. That’s not counting benefits, he added in a follow-up interview Friday, Nov. 1.

The bank didn’t track how many additional part-time positions were created on top of that, Morris said Friday.

At the commissioners’ court meeting, Morris also expressed the bank’s gratitude for county officials’ assistance with the tax abatement.

“Without your investment, this would not have been a viable project,” Morris told commissioners.

He explained in a follow-up interview that the bank had also considered relocating its headquarters to a building it owned in Denton, which would have been large enough and significantly less expensive but couldn’t be upgraded to allow for office changes the way a new building would.

The way the offices in the new building are designed, “we can reconfigure it however we need very, very quickly and without building permits,” Morris said. That will allow the bank to respond quickly to changes in the banking industry, he explained.

The bank was granted 90% abatements on the new building from the county, the city of Gainesville, North Central Texas College and the Gainesville Hospital District, according to information from the Cooke County Assessor’s Office. Even so, the taxes assessed on the property have grown significantly, from $51,479 in 2018 to $144,925 in 2019, according to county property records. Nearly $107,000 of the 2019 tax bill on the property is going to Gainesville schools, the records show, up from just over $11,000 in 2017.

“It’s been a tremendous addition to our community,” Morris said at the commissioners’ court meeting. “I think it’s changed the skyline and perception of Gainesville as a growing and business-forward community with a nice building on I-35. It’s obviously changing employment in the county, which is terrific.”

Morris’s office is now in the new facility, too, he said. He emphasized that since it’s an operations center rather than a customer service location, the open house is a unique chance for the public to see inside the building.

After Morris’s presentation to commissioners, Cooke County Judge Jason Brinkley praised the bank’s work in Cooke County.

“You guys have been a tremendous asset to the community for a number of years,” Brinkley told Morris. “You’ve given back to the community in a number of ways for decades… It’s a crown jewel for Cooke County to have that, especially at the intersection of I-35 and U.S. 82. That entire corner has changed dramatically in the past few years and I think it’s exciting to see this as y’all continue to grow, continue to prosper.”

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