Growth in Commerce business and industry celebrated at yearly gathering

Commerce, TX – The President of the Commerce Economic Development Corporation, Jim Brown, thanked local officials for their investment in the community. He said existing business and industry is "maybe more important" than bringing newcomers to town to grow the local base.

Brown pointed out several examples over the last 12 months of industrial activity: Chogie Manufacturing is looking to wrap up their first year with 15 employees. Chogie, located in the former Lone Star Circuits building, is a precision machining company with customers in the aircraft industry and the military. Ben E. Keith Distribution has added six jobs and starting May 1st will be adding new product lines. The local Zurn/Pex facility has increased production of plastic pipe. And another name change is coming to Tyco Healthcare. The Tyco International website said the healthcare sector will be separated from the parent company and become an independent, publicly traded company called Covidien.

Commerce Chamber of Commerce President Lance Thornton welcomed 14 retail and commercial businesses that started locally over the last 12 months, another 10 that relocated, and 4 that are under new management.

New information was given about the three year effort to improve Commerce parks. Look for upcoming fundraising efforts, including pink flamingoes appearing in your yard. To move the flamingoes or to make a donation, call Jeannie Putman at 903-886-1126.

Representatives of the soon to start Project STEEM at Texas A&M University-Commerce gave an update on the rural school initiative to better prepare teachers and students at 10 area middle and high schools in science, technology, engineering, education, and math. Project STEEM advisory board member Dr. Mary Johnson at A&M-Commerce said Texas is a state with the second highest population, but is ninth in the U.S. in graduating engineers. With hundreds of thousands of engineering jobs available, Johnson said there were only 3,400 engineering graduates from Texas in 2003. And Project STEEM director Kerri O'Connor asked the business and industry officials for assistance ranging from mentoring students to considering a financial contribution to sustain the effort following the conclusion of a $1.5 million dollar startup grant from The Greater Texas Foundation.