The New McKinney Economic Development Corporation President literally hit the ground running when he reported for work on Oct. 29. In his first two days on the job he visited with two new prospective companies and discussed an existing expansion all while the internet was being connected and the furniture was being rearranged. Given the recent project announcements and development news, it certainly is a good time to be in McKinney.
Wehmeier comes to McKinney after spending nearly eight years at the helm of the Lufkin Economic Development Corporation and Director of Economic Development for the City of Lufkin. He also jointly filled the role of President and CEO of the Lufkin Angelina County Economic Development Partnership, a countywide privately funded 501C3 Economic Development Corporation. Wehmeier also previously served as the Executive Director of the Hillsboro Area Economic Development Corporation and Chamber of Commerce for three years.
Chamber President Jodi Ann LaFreniere Ray had an opportunity to talk with Wehmeier during his first week and got his perspective on what lies ahead for McKinney.
Q: We just talked about the larger projects currently underway or just announced in McKinney. Given that you are brand new to McKinney but have been in the economic development business for many years, what’s your perspective on what we have on the horizon?
A: It is a perfect mix of projects that have been announced and underway with expansions and reinvestments as well as new development. Our primary focus always needs to be on existing companies and an expansion means a renewed commitment; that they are digging their roots a little deeper in our community. The companies that are already here deserve our attention and appreciation for being good tax paying corporate partners that are already employing significant numbers of our citizens. Additionally, We need to make sure that we are servicing our existing business base well because it is quite likely that a company interested in moving to McKinney may very likely pick up the phone and call an existing company to find out what it is like to do business here. Our existing businesses are one of our greatest assets for business attraction.
Q: What attracted you to McKinney?
A: I am originally from Plano, and although I have moved several times, I have continued to follow McKinney’s development. I worked with a great leadership team in Lufkin and they always knew if this position became available I would apply for it. I believe McKinney is a special place and we are in a special position to make a difference for a long time in this community. This is where my wife and I would like to eventually retire.
Q: Compare and contrast for me what you have seen in Lufkin and what you expect to see in McKinney.
A: Lufkin is a more rural area and therefore there was a tendency to be slightly more aggressive when attracting a project. McKinney has, and will continue to grow. The difference is we need to make sure we grow properly. We have to ensure that the community looks the way we collectively (as a community) want it to look in 50 years and will continue to be sustainable. We still want to be aggressive in attracting jobs and investments for our community but we have the opportunity to be discerning when evaluating the benefits of a project.
Q: What are your first impressions in getting to know McKinney?
A: I have been impressed with the probusiness attitude of our elected officials and business partners. They recognize that the key to our success is having strong cooperation and collaboration with our partners and stakeholders. I will be giving myself a crash course on the inventory we have available, and will begin outreach to those who play a significant role in McKinney’s development efforts.