No Thank You

Provalus Chooses Jasper over Crockett

By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

CROCKETT – Despite the city of Crockett’s best efforts, a company known as Provalus has chosen to locate a new facility in Jasper, rather than Crockett.

Provalus, an IT service company, sent representatives to Crockett in December to gauge the interest of prospective employees and to see what the county seat had to offer.

With a turnout estimated at nearly 500 and an offer to take over the former Angelina College (AC) facility, the company still decided on the accommodations offered in Jasper.

The move was announced on Thursday morning.

Following the announcement, a call was placed to Crockett City Administrator John Angerstein in an effort to find out further details on the matter.

“Earlier this week, we held a meeting with Provalus where they came in to review our letter of intent and to dig in a little bit deeper on their business plan and our proposals. From there, they went to Jasper and basically did the same thing,” Angerstein said.

The next day, Angerstein said, he received notice from Provalus President Chuck Ruggiero that the company had chosen Jasper.

“This was definitely disheartening and a blow to us. I feel we have a great facility (the AC campus) that we should continue to try and capitalize on and use to leverage businesses. I think a lot of people – a lot of businesses – would love to have a move-in ready facility that is state-of-the-art,” he said.

Asked if the company provided any reasons why the company chose Jasper over Crockett, Angerstein indicated he had recently sent an e-mail to Ruggiero “… asking him to give us some points we could use as a review on how we could improve our future negotiations with another company.”

Angerstein was also asked specifically about several comments on social media which implied he and Mayor Joni Clonts should shoulder the responsibility of Provalus choosing Jasper.

The city administrator replied, “I did see some of that. I’m going to limit my comments to saying the city did try and work with the CEIDC (Crockett Economic and Industrial Development Corporation). We did not try and work around them, as was seen through our holding the employee search. The city worked hard with Provalus to try and put that together.”

“Any efforts that were done,” Angerstein said, “were done because we were trying to help out our CEIDC. At the end of the day, a win for the CEIDC, or anyone, is a win for Crockett and our community. The comments that somehow this was intentionally sabotaged is strictly a blame game that is not going to get us anywhere.”

Angerstein added if anyone had any facts – not just hearsay – which showed otherwise, he would “… be glad to address them. I believe I did everything in my power to work with the CEIDC and to compliment them in order to land a win for Crockett. At the end of the day, it was a 50/50 chance we would either land it or lose it.”

He went on to say there was a drawback by being public with the Provalus negotiations.

“This happens fairly often in any city, even Crockett, where the city and the EDC is working with companies trying to bring in business. When those fall through – when they are not a public affair – no one knows about it so it’s not viewed as a win or a loss. It’s Just business. This company felt it was really important to get a feel for the community such as how much support they would have from the community and if there were adequate employees in the community,” he said.

“Let’s not start pointing fingers and move forward,” Angerstein concluded.

The mayor, however, had a different take on the matter and laid the blame squarely at the feet of the CEIDC, in an e-mail received by The Messenger.

In the correspondence, Clonts stated the CEIDC missed several deadlines and failed to provide Provalus a letter of intent in a timely manner.

Her e-mail concluded, “As mayor, rest assured that I am not against economic development for Crockett. It is the life-blood of our city! I am, however, against the waste of well over $500,000 of taxpayers’ money that goes to support the current Crockett Economic and Industrial Development Corporation. It is time that we get serious about this waste and redirect this money towards fixing our infrastructure and attracting jobs to our city through an improved and more streamline(d) EDC that will ensure our tax dollars are all used to attract and retain good jobs for Crockett.”

CEIDC Executive Director James Gentry was contacted on the matter and requested he be allowed to review the mayor’s e-mail before issuing a response. As of press time, attempts to reach Provalus President Chuck Ruggiero were unsuccessful.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at [email protected].

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