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County locked and loaded with proposal for gun maker

Posted on January 08, 2014 in

By T.J. AULDS

About a year ago, County Judge Mark Henry sent letters to gun manufacturers hoping to lure some to the county.  At the time, it seemed like a shot in the dark. Now the county appears to be in the sights of at least one of those gun makers.
“We got a request from the governor’s office (for economic development) to submit a proposal,” Henry said.

The unnamed gun manufacturer needs 150 undeveloped acres and space for a firing range among the 10 criteria required, Henry said.  The request was in direct response to Henry’s efforts to lure gun makers to the county. Henry sent the letters after news reports and efforts by Gov. Rick Perry and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz to attract gun makers who are unhappy with laws in states where the companies had manufacturing plants.  Henry said the county’s proposal was submitted to the state just before the Christmas holiday.

“There was a list of 10 must haves and 10 things they wanted to have,” Henry said. “We fit the bill on all of them.”

It’s easy to see why Henry would want to attract a gun maker to the county.  According to industry research firm IBIS World, gun manufacturing is an $11.7 billion industry. That includes defense contracts and the private sector of small arms.
In an October 2012 report, IBIS World said: “Due to a number of factors, including a resurgence of demand from the military and civilian sectors, industry revenue has surged over the last five years and it is expected to continue growing over the next five years.”

The annual growth rate between 2007 and 2012 was 5.7 percent, according to the report. Even as federal and state-level spending for guns and ammunition slows, the predicted growth rate between now and 2017 will be a moderate 3.5 percent annually, according IBIS World.  Domestic demand is also expected to slow “due to subsiding fears about potential rising crime rates and gun law changes,” according to the report.  There are more than 460 gun manufacturers in the United States, according to the report.  U.S. exports of guns and ammunition amounted to about $4.4 billion last year.

Henry said there was no timetable given by the governor’s office as to when the county would get a reply about the company’s interest.  “We are nervously optimistic,” Henry said.

Contact Mainland Editor T.J. Aulds at 409-683-5334 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Comedian Carlos Mencia opens isle restaurant

Posted on August 02, 2010 in

By: T.J. Aulds for The Daily News

GALVESTON — Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A comedian walks into a bar…

It’s no joke. Standup comedian and actor Carlos Mencia opened Maggie Rita’s Mexican Grill & Bar during the weekend. The restaurant is the third for the performer best known for his Comedy Central cable TV series “Mind of Mencia” and his comedy TV specials.

The Galveston location at 23rd and Harborside Drive is the third Maggie Rita’s restaurant Mencia and business partner Santiago Moreno opened. The upstart company has locations in Houston and New Orleans.

So, why would a guy known as an “equal opportunity offender,” for his blunt comedy routines, want to get into the restaurant business?

“The brain never stops,” Mencia said a few hours before the restaurant’s grand opening Friday. “It just so happens I am a comedian and an actor. If I lost my voice tomorrow and I was unable to do that, I would fall on my feet.

“I would find something else to do, and I would be successful at it.”

Plus, Mencia loves food.

He would talk to friends all the time about a great chicken burrito he had in Denver and an awesome beef plate he had in another city. Along the way as he talked more and more about food, friends encouraged him to take that passion and turn it into a business.

That’s when he hooked up with Moreno.

“He said to me, ‘Dude, you love food,’” Mencia said. “He said why not take the best recipes I found and open a restaurant.”

The pair opened a Maggie Ritas near the Galleria area of Houston, but that proved to be more of a test run.

“We learned a lot from that experience,” Mencia said. “We tweaked a lot of things from what we learned there.”

Soon after Hurricane Katrina struck, Mencia opened a Maggie Rita’s in New Orleans. A couple of years after Hurricane Ike, he’s opened the Galveston location.

“Oh my God, I am a hurricane chaser,” Mencia hollered. “It’s weird man. I am a natural disaster guy,” he said before switching his voice to an unnamed character: “‘Oh my God, we just got hit by a flood. Hey Carlos, come here and open up another restaurant.’

“I’m not doing it on purpose. I swear.”

It’s not lost on him that the investment in New Orleans and Galveston are part of each city’s hurricane recovery economies.

“I feel good about that,” Mencia said. “Coming here to rebuild is a big part. I could have opened a restaurant anywhere.

“I have always digged Galveston,” Mencia said. “This is one of those towns when you cross that (causeway) bridge, there’s a release that occurs.”

 

carlos

Mencia likes that the stresses of life seem to fade away when on the island.

“And this is a happy place,” he said. “I love the fact that people who come here are always smiling.”

It’s also the only location where people don’t come up to him and say, “‘Hey Carlos, say something funny.’ That’s because they are already happy.”

All the easier to leave the daily grind behind when sipping on a margarita on the restaurant’s third-floor patio with a panoramic view of Galveston Harbor and of The Strand.

One Nation United By Mencia

A faltering economy, a huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, President Barack Obama, the tea party movement, the Arizona immigration law. Such topics would seem a gold mine for Mencia’s brand of in-your-face comedy.

“Yes and no,” he said. “You would think it’s a gold mine because of all the things that are happening. If I was going to make a joke about Obama, if it’s anti-Obama, I know half that audience is going to be (angry). If its pro-Obama, I know the other half of the audience is going to be (angry). Or jokes about the immigration bill.

“All of those things have become products of divisiveness. It’s awesome that they’re out there, but all of a sudden if you pick a side, you’re alienating a giant group of people.”

Mencia believes his next comedy special will show the way to poke fun without taking sides.

“The trick for me is, I don’t look at people like that. I don’t ask somebody when I meet them, “You conservative? You liberal?’ I think everybody is liberal and conservative depending on what we are talking about.”

Mencia said he is focused now on how divided the country is, when there is so much more that people have in common.

“It’s a great atmosphere to be a uniter right now. And I am that.

“The true core of who I am is someone who tries to bring commonality to life.”

Closing Of The ‘Mind”

After a four year run on Comedy Central with “Mind of Mencia,” which took dead aim at ethnic stereotypes, family situations and challenged the politically correct mind set, Mencia decided in 2008 it was time for something else.

“I felt the show had run its course,” he said. “I didn’t want to go out there and beat a dead horse.

“For me I never forget the business part of what ever it is I am doing. Show business. There’s a reason that business is in there.

“I looked at comedy shows that are variety show driven or sketch show driven, aside from way back in the day of variety shows, sketch shows really do have a two to four year lifespan of relevance.”

He made comparison to Saturday Night Live, that while still going 36 years after it debuted, there were only a few years — the years the cast that included John Belushi, Dan Akroyd, Gilda Radner and Jane Curtain — that the show was relevant, Mencia said.

“I didn’t just want the, just there years of Carlos Mencia on ‘Mind of Mencia,’ so I found myself saying for the first time in my life I am going to walk away from this security and money and do something else.”

That was “bizarre” for Mencia.

“I come from a working class family, with 11 sisters and 6 brothers and 70 something nephews and nieces and I take care of my family and I was just blown away with that decision. Even within myself.

“I found myself asking, ‘Did you just say no to money? What the (heck) did I just do?’”

Mencia insists it was the best decision for his career.