A Slice of Americana
Gainesville, Texas combines small town living with all the amenities of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. “It is a great place to raise a family,” says Arleene Loyd, Director of Gainesville Economic Development Corporation (GEDC). You are out of the traffic jams in the major metropolitan areas, but you are close enough to enjoy those amenities.”
Gainesville is located in horse country, and equestrian farms dot the countryside. (Exaggerator, the Thoroughbred that took first place in the 2016 Preakness Stakes and second in the Kentucky Durby, has ties to Gainesville.) The idyllic backdrop of ranches and open countryside sets the stage for a classic, all American lifestyle. “It is a slice of Americana. We were voted Most Patriotic Small Town in America in 2012 by Rand McNally and we are the only Medal of Honor host city in the United States. Every year we bring the Medal of Honor recipients to Gainesville and honor them.” Home to Camp Howze during WWII, Gainesville boasts military roots that help drive the community’s patriotism.
Gainesville’s residents are quick to lend a hand, whether that means honoring veterans or helping out within the community. “It is a very close knit community and an incredibly generous community,” Ms. Loyd reports. “There are community functions almost weekly and opportunities to engage in nonprofit organizations and [community] support activities.” An $11 million Boys & Girls Club of America just opened in June, demonstrating residents’ commitment to local nonprofits and community building organizations.
Located along the banks of the Red River, Gainesville is just south of the Oklahoma border, at a major intersection. “We are in a great location,” Ms. Loyd points out. “We are at a crossroads of I-35 and Highway 82; 82 is your east-west highway, and I-35 is your major interstate through the country.”
This strategic location is ideal for manufacturers looking for quick and easy distribution routes. “Twenty percent of our industry is manufacturing.” Zodiac Seats, the world’s largest commercial airline seat manufacturer, employees 2,500 people in Gainesville. North America’s largest roofing manufacturer, GAF, also manufactures in Gainesville. Reliant Worldwide Plastics produces parts using injection molding, while molded fiberglass producer MFG Texas makes everything from automobile parts to wind turbine blades.
Local manufacturers can draw from a large pool of skilled workers, both within Gainesville and in the surrounding communities. “We have about 3,000 employees who drive to Gainesville to work,” says Ms. Loyd. “Some even drive from Oklahoma. We do draw from the other communities around here.” Workers who have not yet gained on-the-job experience or are looking to hone their skills have access to manufacturing training and education at the local community college. “We have a very strong community college here. It is great for students who are completing a two year degree, going on to a four year degree or who are interested in technical training and continuing education. A new Technology program opened this year to help meet our manufacturers’ workforce needs.”
The oil and gas industry is active throughout the Gainesville area and several local manufacturing operations are dedicated to that sector. In addition to acquisition, development, and exploration companies, Gainesville also has plenty of related services such as Select Energy, a water management solutions provider, and Superior, which specializes in well services.
Gainesville has been affected by the recent downturn in oil prices, but Ms. Loyd points out that this is part of the natural cycle and completely expected. “That industry does ebb and flow. It has been that way since the industry began. It is a very expected cycle. It does have a negative impact when the price per barrel drops, but that is the nature of that industry, and we all prepare for that. With the price of oil being so high the last few years, that is a big windfall for the community. But we don’t budget for that; that is revenue that we either put in a rainy day savings account or [use it] to complete projects.”
Gainesville is a historic community that has managed to maintain its charm. The downtown has been lovingly restored and vintage Victorian homes line the surrounding streets. Built in 1902, the city’s old train depot is still active and trains whisk through the community multiple times a day. “It is a very nice commute from Oklahoma City to Gainesville and then to the Dallas-Fort Worth area,” Ms. Loyd remarks. “It is as quick to ride [the train] as to drive.”
Between the train service, Highway 82, and Interstate 35, residents can easily enjoy all that the surrounding cities have to offer—and still be home in time for dinner. “We have access to all the major amenities in the DFW area.” Residents do not have to travel to find entertainment, however. Gainesville boasts its own regional attractions, such as the Frank Buck Zoo and the Frankie Schmitz Express Train, a one-quarter-size replica steam engine passenger train.
Unlike many communities that have given way to urban sprawl and strip malls, Gainesville’s downtown remains a community anchor. This historic core serves as a gathering space, hosting free events throughout the year. “For the summer concerts downtown, around 2,000 people gather around the courthouse.” Retail stores, restaurants, and offices fill the lively downtown.
Gainesville continues to develop its downtown—while staying true to its historical integrity. “The historic commission is actually bringing us drawings so that [we keep] everything that was original to the architecture of the period. Most of it is from the 1800s.” A developing project will widen sidewalks off the downtown square to create more room for alfresco dining and gathering spaces.
To serve and attract residents, two hundred and forty market rate apartments are currently under construction within walking distance to downtown. Also under construction, the 200-acre “farm themed” Black Hill Farm housing development will boast a winding creek and scenic walking trails as well as an equine center. Residents will be able to choose from a variety of housing, from standalone homes with sprawling yards to townhomes—or “the zero-lot line patio homes for people who don’t want to mow their lawn anymore.”
Other multi-acre developments around town will soon be home to new restaurants, retail stores, office buildings, and perhaps a hotel or two. “All along Interstate 35 you’ve got restaurants coming in, apartments going up, new retail developments,” Ms. Loyd reports. These new establishments will find plenty of customers along Gainesville’s busy thoroughfares. “There are about 80,000 cars running through our community on a given day.”
Development taking place just outside of town will also be a positive boost for Gainesville. Located just a ten minute drive away, WinStar—already the world’s largest casino—is currently undergoing a significant expansion. “It is a huge draw for people to our area. It is an entertainment mecca. They have entertainment throughout the week; every week night there is big name entertainer at WinStar. In addition to slots, table games, bingo, and weekly poker tournaments, the massive complex boasts 1,500 hotel rooms, a 27-hole golf course, a world-class golf academy, designer shops, a spa, and 24 restaurants. “We can drive six miles and have lunch at WinStar Casino,” Ms. Loyd points out.
Gainesville is eager to continue its success while maintaining its small town charm. “We are continuing to increase our manufacturing base in Gainesville, and we are continuing to develop our historic town center,” says Ms. Loyd. “We have just finished our third industrial park, which is ready for a new tenant.” Businesses looking for a strategic location, a skilled workforce, and a charming community will fit right in.