A pair of expansions is set for launch within two existing companies in Gainesville’s industrial sector.

Kent Sharp of the Gainesville Economic Development Corporation said during the May 23 GEDC meeting, his board approved resolutions to offer incentives to powder coating company IFS Coatings and an Alan Ritchey incorporation — both currently operating along North Interstate 35 and planning to widen.

Incentive packages for each company include $5,000 per new employee, up to 25 employees. Sharp said the payout timeline will section this amount into payments of $1,250 per per quarter beginning after the employee has worked for the company three months.

GEDC corporate attorneys are presently drafting incentive agreements.

“They may hire 10 jobs, they may hire 100 jobs,” he said. “But our cap is 25 for each company.”

Sharp said IFS Coatings currently employs 50 people and owners hope to expand their facility by 30,000 square feet. The Alan Ritchey Fabrications building on 2300 N. Interstate 35, a 100,000-square foot facility, will use the space for two new businesses: frag tank manufacturing and oilfield pipe inspection. Attorneys from both companies will possibly examine the agreements prior to Tuesday’s Gainesville City Council meeting, which is when the incentive resolutions, if finalized, may go under review for approval.

The new Ritchey companies and their added employees could be clear contributors to the uprise in Gainesville’s economic standing, which is itself a benefactor of the oil and gas industries. Sharp added IFS Coatings has also been involved here, though it’s to a lesser degree.

“The energy sector obviously has helped our economy significantly,” he said. “There’s always a concern that there’s too many eggs in one economic basket. So one of these companies, IFS and their powder coating, have customers who buy their powder coatings for the energy sector. But probably a vast majority is coating (for other industries). They sell coatings for GE, to coat steel pipe, face helmets, hockey masks, a lot of things. Their business is really independent of the energy sector.”

Sharp also admitted the oil and gas companies of the area may play quite a role in Gainesville’s economic health, but diversification and variety of local industry remains crucial. And the strength of any oil company remains subject to a broader market.

“To have so much of our economy in the energy sector is a concern,” he said. “It’s a blessing. But it can be a curse if oil goes to $38 a barrel like it did two years ago. But you know what? We came through that, and the industries here in Gainesville that are in the energy sector have been in it long enough that they may not predict those cycles but they’re smart enough to know that they’re coming. So they seem to survive pretty well in going through those things.”

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