GONZALES — The Gonzales Economic Development Corporation met Monday night to discuss a few requests for financial assistance for buildings, and to get a report on the progress of others.
First up, the board heard a business grant request in the amount of $6,922.05 from Lucio and Maria Colchado to install roofing, air conditioning and doors to their business at 317 St. Andrew Street. The total cost of the building was estimated at $13,844. After a short discussion, the board decided to fund the grant.
A public hearing was set for the January meeting of the GEDC to take comments for a small business incentive grant totaling $15,000 for Craig Gilham and Tylor Miles. They are planning to spend $51,000 on their project.
The board also agreed to fund lunches for the upcoming Youth Engagement Day where approximately 100 students will visit the city to tour businesses, talk with business leaders and attend a small business expo. In all, 225 people — teachers and business owners included — would need to be fed. It was explained that the meals would be catered by a local establishment.
Closing out the meeting were business reports on two locations, the Frosti Crème and the Alcalde Hotel and Grill.
Steve Faulkner, who has served as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Gonzales, reported on the Frosti Crème ice cream shop set to open soon. He said that the shop should have been open sooner but has run into a series of delays, such as a number of his machines that were not working. When asked by the board how many jobs he had created, he replied that he employs six workers, all part-time.
The board also asked about the food offerings that will be available. Faulkner said that they will serve soup out of crock pots and sandwiches will be warmed in toaster ovens with the customer fixing their own sandwiches. He said that it will be at least two more weeks before they open.
“We want to open with a positive feeling, with everything in place,” Faulkner said.
Reporting next was Richard Green, who has served in a couple of business ventures with Faulkner, including Lodges and Garages and the National Lifestyle Centers. Green reported on the state of the Alcalde Hotel.
Green said that hotel occupancy rates are down across town, with his hotel — the Alcalde — as no exception. They had counted on the oil boom to sustain their business, but that was not the case any more. In his words, they were “sucking wind” and losing money each month they are open.
To turn things around, he has hired a marketing person to push the hotel to visitors, something that hasn’t been done at the location. He said he is starting a tourism program that should bring people to his hotel.
He also blamed the city for costing the hotel money when it was in the construction and permitting phase early on.
Green insisted that he was fully invested in Gonzales, having purchased three new buildings in the downtown area just last week. He wanted to put to rest rumors that the hotel was planning to fold.
He also said that a building next to the Frosti Crème will serve as the office for his historical Gonzales tour company, Texas: The Beginning. It will also be where he will show the “first shot” tourism video created by his son, Rick Green, made for the Gonzales Tourism Advisory Committee.
A visit to the website for Texas: The Beginning shows tour packages for a family of four running $599. The package would cover two nights lodging at the Alcalde Hotel, the tour, and breakfast and dinner on the day of the tour. They also tout “world-class guides will take you through the early history of the Texas revolution.”
GEDC board member Dennis Nesser said that they had heard lots of rumors swirling on the demise of his hotel and they wanted to make sure that their contract with the Alcalde is steady and that all agreements made prior are honored.
Green replied that there are no problems with that.