Busy times mean good times for LEDC’s Gill

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Susan Gill’s philosophy about working with Lindale’s economic development is the same as when she was hired two years ago – understand the climate and realize things won’t change overnight.

“It’s all about managing expectations,’’ said Gill, who has been president of the Lindale Economic Development Corporation since January, 2016. “When you sign a contract, you have to be realistic that the project will take some time. You have to be patient.’’

Yet once the wheel of progress begins to turn, as it has for the past few years in Lindale, growth becomes apparent in virtually every direction.

A recent example is the Centennial Marketplace, situated to the east of Lowe’s and across from Walmart on Centennial Drive.

The anchor store in the new shopping venue is Petsense, a pet food and grooming business with more than 160 retailers nationwide.

Developers feel the traffic generated by big box stores Walmart and Lowe’s will help funnel customers not only to the pet store but other businesses as well, such as a Little Caesar’s pizzeria.

Gill said the property was purchased a back in 2014-15 and plans began to firm up about a month ago.

“This is a good example of the way these things work,’’ she said. “People just don’t understand how long it takes for a development to get off the ground. There are so many things to take care of before there is funding and once they find tenants, there are other issues to finalize.’’

When Gill began her association with the LEDC, Lindale’s business growth had begun but in the past 18 months, the pace has quickened.

“I still can’t get over how much opportunity is available in Lindale,’’ she said. “It’s almost endless. If anyone wanted to start or expand a business, this is the place to be.’’

Last spring, the city’s – and East Texas’ – economic fortunes got another boost when Sanderson Farms chose Lindale, Mineola and Winona for its most recent expansion.

Lindale’s business park will house the chicken hatchery and after the eggs are delivered and hatched, the chicks go to farms outside Mineola where they will eventually wind up at the processing plant in Winona.

“I think this is so great because of all the technical and other related jobs associated with Sanderson,’’ she said. “It is such an amazing company and once it’s finished, we can bring other companies here and show them what Sanderson has accomplished.’’

While Sanderson’s news is by far the biggest on the economic front in recent months, Gill is also excited about the increase in multi-family and single-family constructed currently under way.

New duplexes near Velma Penny Elementary School and near the Lindale City Cemetery as well as single-family units “all over Lindale’’ will fill the need for families needing new housing.

Also, The Cannery’s loft apartments are on schedule and while not complete, Gill said many have already been leased.

Lindale’s growth is east and west as well as north and south, with new restaurants open or soon to be opened on Highway 69 and interest remaining high along Interstate 20, all of which will be in Lindale’s taxing district.

“We’ve had interest from everything from fast food restaurants to sit down restaurants,’’ she said. “I’ve had discussions with a grocery store chain which is looking at Lindale. It’s an exciting time for sure.’’

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