Keith Jilge was named Feb 23 as the city’s first economic development director.
Keith Jilge was named Feb 23 as the city's first economic development director. (Paul Gnadt)
The City Council decided Feb. 23 to create and fill a new staff position for economic development.
The council supported a recommendation by city administrator Bill Guinn to hire longtime resident Keith Jilge as the city's first economic development director.
Jilge's annual salary of $50,000 will be paid from three sources, Guinn said. The Keene Economic Development Corporation (called the Type A board) will pay $20,000 a year for three years. The Keene Community Development Corporation (called the Type B board) will pay $20,000 a year with an annual review, and the city will pay $10,000 to complete the balance.
The position became effective immediately after the vote.
It is the plan that bonds issued by the Keene Industrial Development Corporation for new development at Wayne Tomblinson Industrial Park, sales tax revenue and other revenue generated by new businesses will eventually support Jilge's position, Guinn said.
 In early November, the council signed “deal memorandums” with two companies, Brazos GTL Technologies and Be Energy Inc., to build three manufacturing plants at the industrial park.
The first Brazos plant would fabricate and assemble components necessary to produce clean diesel and kerosene fuels from pipeline-quality natural gas. That plant will occupy 60 acres at the industrial park and cost about $150 million to build. The conversion units assembled at the plant will sell for $25 million-$70 million, the memo says.
The second Brazos GTL plant will occupy 10 acres at the park and employ about 75 people, the memo says.
It will be a natural-gas-to-liquid energy production facility that will use a improved version of a proven, operating technology to convert domestically abundant, low-cost pipeline-quality natural gas into vital Jet-A and diesel fuel blend-stocks, the memo says.
Construction cost is estimated to be $250 million. The same principals who signed the first memo also signed the second memo.
The third plant — built by Be Energy — is a waste-to-energy production facility that will convert wood pulp into kerosene and diesel fuel. It will occupy 35 acres, cost an estimated $100 million to construct and employ about 100 people, the memo says. 
Jilge has lived in Keene since 1972. He attended Keene ISD and graduated from Cleburne High School and the University of Texas at Arlington with a degree in accounting. He has served as parts and service director at Lloyd Ford in Itasca and, prior to joining Keene, was general manager of Park Manor RV Park in Grandview.
Jilge and his wife, Lisa, have two daughters, Sarah, 17, and Lydia, 15, who are home schooled.