Ampersand Art Supply of Austin is moving into the “Big Blue” former shrimp farm, bringing jobs and tax dollars to Buda.
The Hays County Commissioners Court, the Buda Economic Development Corporation (Buda EDC) and the Greater San Marcos Partnership (GSMP) announced this week Ampersand Art Supply will relocate to Hays County from Austin.
“I am excited for the city, Buda EDC and our citizens that we’re bringing a new industry into our area,” said Cathy Chilcote, president of the Buda EDC. “Jobs, a better business base and a clean manufacturing company can only lead to a successful partnership among the Buda EDC, Hays County, GSMP and Ampersand.”
The county, Buda EDC and GSMP worked together to encourage Ampersand to move and become the anchor tenant for an existing facility in the city of Buda’s extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ).
As part of the relocation package, the Buda EDC will provide a $75,000 development grant, and Hays County will provide an annual economic development incentive grant of up to $7,500 per year over 10 years, tied to employment growth. Ampersand has agreed to add a minimum of 35 jobs over 10 years to its current 40-person staff.
“This collaboration benefits everyone involved,” said Hays County Precinct 2 Commissioner Mark Jones. “By attracting a quality new business to the city of Buda’s ETJ, an unused building will be revitalized, the tax base will be improved and Ampersand and its employees will have the pleasure of calling Hays County ‘home.’”
Ampersand Art Supply is a Texas-based, homegrown manufacturing company that developed and produces unique art panels, ClaybordTM and GessobordTM, used by artists to create their works of art. The art panels are sold throughout the United States in art supply stores.
Ampersand is considered a “green” company in the art supply industry and its light industrial manufacturing operation involves woodworking and water-based coatings. The company intends to continue with its commitment to sound environmental manufacturing practices.
Ampersand will relocate from its current two locations in Austin to the former shrimp farm in Buda known locally as “Big Blue.” Although in disrepair from years of neglect, the obsolete 109,000-square-foot building will be repurposed and subdivided, adding a new tax base to the city of Buda.
Ampersand will initially invest in basic improvements to “Big Blue,” including a new septic, natural gas line, a sprinkler system and the electrical infrastructure necessary to make the building functionally operational for the company.
“Ampersand not only brings a new industry and new jobs to Hays County, but the company will breathe new life into a building that had limited potential because of its design and was depreciating on the tax rolls,” said Amy Madison, president of GSMP. “That’s economic development at its finest.”
Launched in 1994, Ampersand now has seven major product lines and is the market leader for painting panels in the art supply industry. The company grew an average of 20 percent annually during the past two years.