By AMY MADISON
Economic Development San Marcos Executive Director
Fred Astaire once said about Ginger Rogers, “she does everything that I do, but backwards and in high heels.” Trying to stimulate and grow a local economy in an uncertain economic climate is similar. It is a tougher job, but it can be done – hopefully, without stepping on anyone’s toes.
Since March, 33 leaders in the Greater San Marcos Area have been pouring over results from community focus groups and surveys, statistics and demographics, and learning about global, national and regional trends. They have been dancing backwards to arrive at conclusions about how we move forward to grow the Greater San Marcos area economy.
The leaders formed a regional public-private partnership, Partners for Progress, in early January to oversee the plan. Members include the City of San Marcos, Economic Development San Marcos (EDSM), San Marcos Chamber of Commerce (SMACC), Central Texas Medical Center (CTMC), Texas State University, Hays County, Gary Job Corps, San Marcos CISD, Caldwell County, the Lockhart Economic Development Corporation, the Luling Economic Development Corporation, and Prime Outlet Mall.
These regional partners have invested not just time, but money, in our future. The result will be a four-year economic development strategic implementation plan, slated for adoption in early September, which will take us places we have never before thought possible.
Taking the lead in this dance is Market Street Services, an Atlanta-based firm specializing in community and economic development planning. Watching this company pair with our community leaders to discuss issues and arrive at ways to address them is a lot like watching Fred and Ginger. It is graceful, requires coordinated effort, lots of skill, and a healthy amount of dedication and commitment.
Most of what we have identified as issues facing our community will not be news to anyone who has lived here for a while, but working together to address the issues we face in this community is news. In fact, a comprehensive regional economic plan has never before been attempted. The plan will be our roadmap to the future, and the first concentrated effort to fold the plans of our stakeholders into a joint collaboration to grow the Greater San Marcos Area in a responsible, sustainable manner.
It has been said that a fool with a plan can beat any genius without one. By mid-September, we will have an economic development strategic plan and some very intelligent people in San Marcos ready to implement the three goals identified for the plan: Economic Diversification, Quality of Place, and Workforce Excellence.
Now, that’s a something worth dancing about in San Marcos, no matter whether you are wearing high heels, boots or you’re just plain barefoot.
EDSM Executive Director Amy Madison is a certified economic development professional with more than 20 years of combined experience in community and economic development.