JOHNSON COUNTY (CBS11) – Paris, London, Milan and Johnson County, Texas. They’re all about to be connected, by high fashion, and French luxury.
Louis Vuitton is the world’s most valuable luxury fashion brand, a 160-year old company, known for handbags that sell for thousands.
In choosing the next place to make the bags though, the company shunned the bright lights of the city, and the constant buzz of locations near highways, so that their next group of craftsman will only see the sights, and hear the sounds of a rural country setting.
“One of the executives called me and asked me, ‘Have you been to the ranch?’” said Diana Miller, from the Johnson County Economic Development Commission. “And I said, ‘Oh yes.’ And he said, ‘What do you think of it?’ He was so excited. And I said, ‘I think it’s beautiful.’ And it is.”
It is exactly what Louis Vuitton was looking for, Miller said. She helped put together a package of tax benefits and grant money for a new road, to put Johnson County ahead of other Texas cities, and locations in North Carolina.
“I thought, no way,” Gwen Beeson said, laughing about when she heard who was coming to the area.
She’s owned the local laundromat in nearby Keene for 15 years.
“It’s a residential area, you would never think a business would go back there,” she said.
That’s what some residents have balked at. Concerns over development, and traffic from as many as 500 new jobs in the next five years, have led to protests over Project Mustang, the code name the company used when it was still in negotiations.
But other companies, are taking notice too.
“We’ve already had those phone calls,” Miller said. “I got two yesterday.”
One of them was from a boutique hotel she said, seeing Johnson County in a whole new light.
“Like I say, nothing stays the same,” said Beeson. “You’re always going forward, or you’re going backwards.”
The company is expected to design the facility in way where it won’t be visible from the road, and could break ground, as soon as January.