The Greater San Marcos region registers eleven times the number of utility patents per capita than the State of Texas. This creative and innovative spirit is fostered in large part by Texas State University. The fiber reaction technology used today by Visionary Fiber Technologies (VFT) was first developed by staff at Texas State University and funded by the USDA and National Sciences Foundation for commercialization.
VFT expanded and improved upon several patents initially developed by researchers from Texas State University for broad commercialization. For example, VFT has improved upon one of the patents to increase food production to help meet the nutritional needs of global population growth.
Although VFT had considered locating within the Austin city limits, they selected to locate in Lockhart for three key reasons.
First, with the strong relationships established with Texas State University, VFT wanted to stay in close proximity to the university for the purpose of scientific collaboration with staff and students.
Second, the talent/workforce VFT would need to become operational and productive was available in the region, largely provided by graduates of Texas State University who wanted to stay within the Greater San Marcos region.
Third, Lockhart could provide the required facility and infrastructure and a much lower operational cost compared to Austin while still staying in the Austin region. Lockhart, as well as the entire Greater San Marcos region (Hays and Caldwell Counties) are part of the Austin Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).
Lockhart City Council and Caldwell County Commissioners Court, respectively, approved performance-based economic development agreements (Chapter 380 and 381) with VFT for property tax rebates.
The City of Lockhart provided VFT with a 100 percent rebate in the first year; a 75 percent rebate over the next three years; and a 50 percent rebate over the last four years, provided all performance incentive metrics are met by the company. The County’s rebates provided VFT with a 50 percent rebate for 10 years.
In addition, the Lockhart Economic Development Corporation agreed to award development grant incentives for up to $427,500 associated with reimbursement of a portion of infrastructure costs and other development expenses incurred to renovate and begin operations at VFT’s facility, so long as the company meets its incentive goals.
In 2019, VFT secured a 30,000 square foot facility with the required infrastructure to house its global administrative headquarters, demonstration processing facility, and R&D laboratory to manufacture, fabricate and commission products generated through its technology.
According to conservative estimates the net fiscal benefit of VFT’s new facility will provide an estimated $527,948 to the City of Lockhart, $491,823 to Caldwell County, and $318,382 to the Lockhart Independent School District by the expiration of the ten-year agreement.
VFT has created 30 jobs in Year 1 and is on track to provide 70 new jobs through the end of their 10-year agreement.
At $75,000/year in wages, VFT is now one of the highest-paying employers in Lockhart.