The year was 1882. It was the year of the first World Series… the first string of Christmas lights was created by Thomas Edison… and thanks to the intersection of the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe, and the Texas & St. Louis railways, a new town was born. McGregor, first known as McGregor Springs, was incorporated and established as a railroad town and a commercial shipping center. As the Great Depression became a reality across the country, the community of McGregor remained fairly strong, even though some losses did take place.
In 1942, the McGregor economy received a significant boost when the U.S. Army acquired 18,000 acres of farmland to build the Bluebonnet Ordnance Plant. During this time, McGregor tripled in size; growing to over 6,000 residents. Following WWII, the plant was either sold to individuals or transitioned into new manufacturing opportunities (rocket engines, solid propellants or gas generators). In time, the facility served the U.S. Army, the U.S. Air Force, and finally the U.S. Navy under several designations. From 1942 until its closure in 1995, the mission of the facility included the research, testing and manufacture of weapons and solid-fuel rocket propulsion systems.
List of Industrial Park Partners from WWII forward:
- 1942-1945 – Bluebonnet Ordnance Plant – Army
- 1952-58 – Phillips Petroleum Company / Air Force plant 66 (Jet Assisted Take-Off-JATO)
- 1958-59 – Astrodyne (JATO / Finch and Castable Solid Motors)
- 1959-1978 – Rocketdyne (Sparrow, Sidewinder, and Phoenix / F-104 ZELL Booster)
- 1978-95 – Hercules (Phoenix, Sidewinder, Sparrow, HARM, Sidearm, AMRAAM, and Chaparral Missles)
- 1997-2000 – Beal Aerospace (Commercial Space Venture)
A New Beginning
In 2006, the Navy issued its first ever “Ready for Reuse” determination to the City of McGregor after an aggressive cleanup measure on the site. Before any land transfer was allowed, the Navy was required to ensure that the land was free of environmental hazards or had effective and proven remedies in place. Once completed, the overall focus for the 9,700-acre park was Economic Redevelopment.
At some point in life, every individual is faced with a task so daunting that they are forced to make a decision as to how it should be handled. Many opportunities end up being ignored because they look too good to be true, they seem to be overwhelming and unmanageable, or you lack the vision to fully take advantage of the opportunity presented. Some opportunities get abused because they are used incorrectly or mismanaged. A handful of opportunities actually end up being capitalized on when the right leadership shows up at the right time, when communication lines are open, and when people openly decide to work in concert for the greater good.
In full disclosure, at one point in time, McGregor had an opportunity that was ignored and abused. When the Navy handed 9,000 acres over to the City of McGregor, it was overwhelming. The leadership lacked the full vision necessary to grasp what must be done in order to bring success. The land was used the wrong way and, at times, was poorly managed. But then, beginning in this decade, we find ourselves at a time where we have an opportunity that is being capitalized on. When a community like ours is able to bring together all public entities (Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Corporation, School System, City) for one common goal, success is imminent! Communication has become one of our greatest strengths… we’ve adopted the idea that the only way our community can truly be great is if we all work together to make it so.
As we move forward, we find ourselves partnering with Industrial partners such as Transtech Energy, Ferguson, C3, The Heart of Texas Electric Co-op, Derksen Buildings, The Texas A&M Forest Service, Crosslink Powder Coating, The Central Texas Youth Rodeo Association, Insituform, Lark United Manufacturing, G.A.P. Roofing, ZZZ Chair and SpaceX in order to bring about a better way of life in McGregor. Our retail businesses continue to thrive and those in the service industry continue to call McGregor “a great place to be.” Employees travel from Waco, Temple, Killeen, Gatesville, Copperas Cove, Belton, West, and many other places just to work in our community. With careful planning and insight, we look forward to seeing continued growth and opportunity.