Foreign Trade Zone approved for Hill County

Editor: Shannon Cottongame

May 3, 2023

Hill County Judge Justin Lewis has been notified that the Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) sought for Hill County and all of its incorporated cities has been approved at the federal level.

The United States Department of Commerce Foreign Trade Zones Board In Washington, D.C. had the final say on the application.

The Hillsboro City Council and Hill County Commissioners Court passed resolutions last August in support of the FTZ.

The zone was sought by local trucking firm Frontier Support Logistics (FSL) and its owners Rick Cook and Finn Jensen.

The application first went to the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport Board, which coordinates and approves FTZ applications in North Central Texas before they are sent to the nation’s capital for review.

An FTZ is a secure area under U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBD) supervision. They are the United States’ version of what are known internationally as free-trade zones.

Foreign and domestic merchandise may be moved in zones for operations not otherwise prohibited by law, including storage, exhibition, assembly, manufacturing and processing.

Under zone procedures, duty and federal excise tax, if applicable, are not paid until merchandise is transferred from the zone for domestic consumption. Goods may be exported from the zone.

FSL contracted with William M. Methenitis with the firm of Ernst and Young, and it is his task now to get FSL’s operation up to speed on all federal regulations.

FSL’s effort to establish the FTZ comes after the company has seen rapid growth since 2018, when it began in Cook’s house with four people working in a 10’x8′ building. That building now serves as the maintenance shop office for FSL.

By the end of FSL’s first year, it had expanded from eight trucks to 18 and operated out of a 15’x15′ building, which is now used at its second lot, with six people on staff.

The company soon ran out of parking space for the trucks and purchased its first lot at 145 HCR 3100 in 2019 and built a maintenance shop. This still serves as FSL’s office, maintenance shop and truck parking site.

In 2021, FSL purchased 18 acres between Interstate 35 and IKO Way to utilize for outside storage of product and staged trailers. That same year, it purchased 30 acres for its transload yard, which includes the rail and storage space, and that was expanded the following year.

FSL continued its expansion by purchasing an additional 42 acres that will be used to construct a climate-controlled distribution warehouse that will also house its new corporate offices.

This has led up to 2023, with the opening of the rail and approval of the Foreign Trade Zone. FSL has now grown to about 112 employees from the original four, and with the addition of the distribution center, the company hopes to extend the rail to the warehouse, which will add an additional 50 to 60 employees.

The fleet now includes over 50 trucks and 200 trailers, and a brokerage department has been added.

Methenitis had told local officials not to expect a ruling from the Department of Commerce until June, but it was approved in near record time.

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