The "Barbecue Capital of Texas" is becoming a magnet for new businesses.
Lockhart City Council on April 19 revealed details about a trio of projects that could make their way to the city southeast of Austin, bringing at least 150 jobs over the next few years amid a wider uptick in economic activity.
Two of the companies — a custom barbecue manufacturer and an Austin-based motorcycle company — were approved for incentives agreements with the city and Lockhart Economic Development Corp. that will allow both projects to relocate to Lockhart. A third project, a frozen food producer, is awaiting word from the state on incentives before officially announcing plans to open a facility in Lockhart.
It would mark continued business development in Lockhart, which is about 30 miles southeast of Austin in Caldwell County and had a population of 14,379 in 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Other big projects in Lockhart include a pair of facilities from Iron Ox Inc., the Silicon Valley-based robotic farming company that is expected to begin selling its produce in Texas grocery stores this year.
West of Lockhart, Chem-Energy Corp., a California-based petroleum trading firm and energy company, also has announced plans to invest $1 billion in a pair of solar power and battery facilities in Uhland and Martindale.
Here is a look at the three latest projects confirmed for or considering Lockhart.
Revival Cycles Inc. — a well-known Austin-based custom motorcycle company and retailer of apparel, accessories and art — is eyeing a move to Lockhart with the purchase of a 30,000-square-foot downtown building it would revitalize and turn into the company's new corporate headquarters.
The company, which has been in Austin for 15 years and has a storefront on South Congress Avenue and a warehouse in East Austin, has appeared on shows such as "Jay Leno's Garage" on YouTube and has worked with some of the top motorcycle manufacturers in the world, including BMW, Harley Davidson Inc. and Ducati Motor Holding SpA.
Revival Cycles would purchase and revitalize the Masur Building at the corner of North Church and West San Antonio streets in downtown Lockhart. In addition to serving as the company's HQ, it would also be used for in-person and online sales, replacing the East Austin site while keeping the South Congress site. Officials said it would create up to 50 jobs and generate property tax and sales tax revenue.
Lockhart City Council on April 19 approved an economic development performance agreement and Chapter 380 agreement for the project, which was codenamed "Project Revival." The 380 agreement provides a five-year property tax rebates that starts at 75% in year one and decreases to 25% in year five. The performance agreement would provide $250,000 in grants to cover renovations of the building, including fire suppression, windows and an elevator, as well as a portion of a sales tax rebate starting at 75% in year one and decreasing to 50% in year five. Both agreements are contingent on the company investing at least $3 million and creating 35 full-time jobs, with an average salary of at least $40,000, and opening the space by June 2023.
"I just think this is another major feather in our cap here. This is a very internationally known business and they are very excited about coming to Lockhart," Lockhart Mayor Lew White said during the meeting.
Lockhart Economic Development Corp. Director Mike Kamerlander called the deal "nothing but a positive for Lockhart's downtown."
"What's great about Revival is that it continues to build on Lockhart's already thriving downtown with a new destination attraction for tourism and a new clientele for our downtown area," he said in an interview.
Mill Scale Metal Works, which creates custom smokers worthy of heirloom status and currently operates just outside of the city of Lockhart, may purchase 1.3 acres at 711 N. Colorado St., just north of Kreuz Market, for a 10,000-square foot manufacturing facility and retail storefront that will move it within city limits.
Council on April 19 approved an economic development performance agreement and Chapter 380 incentives agreement with Mill Scale LLC, which was codenamed "Project BBQ." The performance agreement provides up to a $50,000 rebate for an electrical transformer and sales tax rebates up to $25,000 over a five-year term, while the 380 agreement provides a property tax rebate starting at 100% in year one and dipping down to 50% in year three. It is contingent on the company investing at least $1.5 million in the project and hiring 15 people in the first three years. The company is also required to commence operations by June 2023.
Co-owner Matt Johnson, who founded the company with his brother, Caleb, said during the meeting that they're currently in the process of designing the layout and creating blueprints, and they expect to close on the land on April 29. They're hoping to break ground as quickly as possibly and finish the project by November. He added that the entire team they've assembled for the construction of the project is Lockhart-based.
Kamerlander called the company "one of the premier barbecue pit manufacturers in the world," adding that several of their barbecue pits are used by restaurants highlighted in the Texas Monthly's top 50 barbecue rankings. The company is growing fast and needs additional space, he said.
"I don't think you could ask for a better company to come to Lockhart. We're getting one of the premier barbecue pit manufacturers in the world," Kamerlander said.