Denison business leaders and city officials came together Friday to discuss the changes in economic climate of Denison at the 13th annual Denison Development Alliance Economic Development Summit. In addition to updates from local business owners, city officials gave updates on city projects and facilities within the City.
Mayor Jared Johnson praised the city for coming together as a community to support many projects in 2013 as he addressed the major changes last year and gave a look ahead into 2014.
“Only in Denison, Texas does that happen,” said Johnson, referring to $3 million in donations from individuals and organizations to fund the construction of the new Munson Stadium in downtown Denison.
Johnson praised the business community for helping bring Denison to a higher regional focus. In 2013, over 50 events were scheduled and held in downtown Denison, said Johnson. These events ranged from local favorites such as the annual Christmas parade, to events like the North American Strongman National Championship, which drew over 200 competitors to the city in October. Since 2008, the motel/hotel taxes have increase three times due to such events and increases in tourism opportunities, said Johnson.
Following the theme of growth in the city, Johnson and City Manager Robert Hanna gave updates on major development projects in the city. While the Preston Harbour development, which would increase the size of Denison by about 25 percent, remains a 50-year project, the Gateway Village development promises to be completed with the next decade.
Phase 1 of the development, which includes medium- and high-income housing, is expected to create over $ in private development. Over the lifetime of the entire development, Gateway Village is expected to create $4 billion in private development. Even at half that amount, it would still be a boon for the city, said Hanna.
Mayor Johnson also took the opportunity to discuss city projects that are planned for 2014. Going alongside the construction of the new stadium, Johnson detailed plans on revitalizing and renewing Forest Park. The park was purchased in 1882 for $1. Johnson said he had plans to return the park to its “turn of the century charm.”
Johnson and Hanna gave continued updates on the Denison library renovation, which started in November. The library, which was visited by over 17,000 people in 2013, is expected to have a ribbon cutting ceremony on Jan. 31, to celebrate its reopening.
While Johnson and Hanna were celebrating Denison’s successes in the past year, they also acknowledge that Denison’s aging infrastructure is in need of updating to keep up with the growth in the city. Among the projects that are planned for 2014, Denison hopes to renovate its aging police station, which was last updated in 1971.
“As the Council was looking at our facilities, this one was just embarrassing,” said Hanna, referring to the building’s age.
As a whole, Johnson commended both the community and business leaders for their continued dedication to making Denison a growing community in Texoma. Johnson said that he hopes to continue a trend of expansion and growth for the city.
“We are going to try to springboard off of the success of 2013,”said Johnson. “We want to continue to create a culture where businesses can thrive and grow.”