WACO (October 23, 2009)—Texas State Technical College Baylor University head up a $30 million cooperative effort announced Friday to convert the old General Tire plant in Waco into a 300,000-square-foot technology research center in an effort that could pump billions into the local economy while creating tens of thousands of jobs.
Economist Dr Ray Perryman told the Waco Tribune-Herald the project could have a $4.2-billion impact on the economy and could mean as many as 22,000 new jobs over its first 15 years.
Sen. Kip Averitt, R-Waco, and Rep. Jim Dunnam, D-Waco, passed legislation earlier this year appropriating $10 million for TSTC to use for the collaborative project and Thursday night, Baylor Regents voted to commit $10 million more.
Work begins next year and Baylor said Friday a recent study by architectural consultants found that the building could be renovated into a basic shell within as little as 15 months.
The first stage of work includes demolition of existing walls and the steel structure that remain in the old plant and restoration of the building’s brick veneer.
The roof and windows will be replaced.
Stairways and elevators will be installed.
A second phase, which will require additional funding, will complete space for research, workforce training and anchor space for industries, the university said.
General Tire operated the plant from the 1940s until 1986.
At one time, the company was Waco’s highest-paying employer.