Amy Holloway of Avalanche Consulting tells the San Marcos City Council last week about an economic development plan in the works for the city. Photo by Sean Batura.
By SEAN BATURA
A group of local leaders in government, business and nonprofit sectors recently unveiled recommendations intended to increase wages, reverse growing unemployment, reduce poverty and provide affordable housing while protecting the environment.
The aforementioned recommendations — the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) — is the fourth of five phases in the Greater San Marcos Plan, a three- to four-year project entailing more funding for San Marcos’ economic development corporation, among other initiatives.
The fifth and final phase of the Greater San Marcos Plan — the implementation plan — will describe concrete steps and benchmarks necessary to achieving the goals outlined in CEDS. Amy Madison, the economic director of Economic Development San Marcos and project coordinator for the Greater San Marcos Plan, said the final draft of CEDS and the implementation plan will be released in the spring.
In the language of the draft version of CEDS, the Greater San Marcos Plan entails pursuing three main goals: 1.) Creating “a workforce development system that allows regional businesses to be globally competitive and enhances economic opportunity for workers;” 2.) Diversifying the “area economy through enhanced programmatic, marketing, and infrastructure capacity,” and; 3.) Engaging in “aggressive and ongoing efforts … to make the Greater San Marcos area’s one of Texas’ most compelling destinations to live, work, and visit.”
CEDS was developed via a months-long process facilitated by Atlanta consulting firm Market Street Services, Inc., and guided by a steering committee — called Partners for Progress — composed of officials from the city governments and economic development corporations of San Marcos, Luling and Lockhart, government officials from Hays and Caldwell Counties, and representatives of Wells Fargo Bank, Broadway Bank, Texas State University, Prime Outlets, San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District, Gary Job Corps, TCOR Insurance Management, Priority Personnel, Inc., Central Texas Medical Center, Heritage Association of San Marcos, Butler Manufacturing Co. and Ember Industries.
“We could have held this close to our chest and done it just for San Marcos,” Madison said. “But by inviting other partners to the table and asking them to help us pay for the plan, they bought in to the plan, they helped plan the strategy, now they want to partner with us into the future. It just makes us stronger. Economic development, a regional approach to economic development is critical. Because you are not a vacuum, you’re not a bubble, you’re not an island. What happens all around you impacts everything about your community, both from a good and bad perspective.”
Madison said CEDS will allow stakeholders in the greater San Marcos area to more effectively recruit new businesses to the region and retain existing businesses. CEDS recommends targeting three industries for recruitment: health care, corporate and professional operations and supply chain management.
“It’s always better to go with a bow and arrow than with a sawed-off shotgun — you’re going to kill something, but is it what you want?” Madison said. “We’re trying to be more directed and use our dollars wisely, because we don’t have that many of them, and it’s critical to the future of the community that we do spend them wisely, and that we have a return on our investment — and that means bringing quality jobs to the area.”
CEDS was formulated using data compiled, in part, through a community assessment conducted by Market Street that involved 26 interviews with community leaders and 12 focus groups representing the greater San Marcos region. According to a presentation at last week’s San Marcos City Council meeting by Market Services team member and founder/CEO of Avalanche Consulting Amy Holloway, the focus groups included people from community and neighborhood organizations, tourism, young professionals, large employers, small business owners, high school students, K-12 teachers and administrators, among others.
Market Street also conducted online and print versions of a community survey, which Holloway said yielded 1,021 responses.
Texas State Provost and Partners for Progress Chairman Perry Moore told the San Marcos City Council last week that CED’s recommendations for a workforce development system entails enticing Austin Community College to locate in the greater San Marcos area. Moore said the Greater San Marcos Plan will entail the expenditure of “between $750,000 and $1 million per year over the next several years.”
The stakeholders involved in Partners for Progress — and a future incarnation of the group, which is currently reorganizing — would likely foot the bill.Email | Print