In This Issue
You may be aware that the ED-Central Newsletter is brought to you by the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX), but are you aware of the economic development services that TEEX has available to assist your community?
You may be aware that the ED-Central Newsletter is brought to you by the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX), but are you aware of the economic development services that TEEX has available to assist your community? Serving communities across Texas for almost 80 years, TEEX’s economic development team understands the unique challenges and opportunities faced by rural Texas communities and can build a program to suit your specific needs.
This month, we are going to profile TEEX's Economic Development Services' three phase program, including the Economic Development for Local Leaders Course, Strategic Planning Activities, and the Successful Grant-Writing Strategies Course, all of which are currently being employed in TEEX's project in Jacksboro. .
Jacksboro, Texas: Community Profile
The City of Jacksboro is the county seat of Jack County and is centrally located between Wichita Falls and Fort Worth. According to the 2000 census, there are about 4,533 people living in the city. The birthplace of 4-H, Jacksboro offers numerous recreation and tourism opportunities while maintaining a culturally and historically rich small town atmosphere. Further, the city enjoys the services of a dedicated economic development professional and economic development corporation.
Phase I: Economic Development for Local Leaders Course
In partnership with the Texas Economic Development Council, TEEX conducts the Basic Economic Development Course (BEDC), an intensive 4-day course usually held twice a year. (For more information on the BEDC visit https://www.texasedc.org/node/71.) The BEDC course is a highly valuable offering, but during this project, TEEX recognized that smaller communities could benefit from additional economic development training tailored specifically to their unique needs.
In many communities across Texas, judges, mayors, city council members, county commissioners, and other members of the community are charged with framing economic development strategies even though they may not have the expertise or experience to make fully informed decisions. In response to the educational needs of these community leaders, TEEX developed the Economic Development for Local Leaders Course. This new program is designed for individuals in smaller communities who are responsible for economic development initiatives but do not have a background in economic development. The basic goal of the course is to provide participants with a basic knowledge and understanding of the approaches to economic development and show them programs other communities employ to realize their economic development goals. The course enables participants to:
* Understand basic economic development terminology
* Discern the various roles of economic developers
* Determine if existing programs and resources can be leveraged, expanded or modified to meet identified needs
* Understand which items must occur in community development before successful business development can occur.
Designed initially for the Jacksboro project, TEEX delivered the course in May 2009 to the community’s leaders. After completion of Phase I, a community can choose to take the knowledge learned from the course, proceeding with development activities on their own, or they can continue working with TEEX in the second phase to develop strategic planning opportunities. In Jacksboro’s case, local leaders decided to continue working with TEEX and moved directly into Phase II.
Phase II: Strategic Planning Activities
During the strategic planning process, economic development leaders and stakeholders are provided the opportunity to assess and discuss their community's future in depth. Following this, TEEX presents its findings of a community’s assessment and provides insights on statewide initiatives, economic development trends, and region-specific industrial growth.
In Phase II, TEEX facilitates strategic planning workshops and creates your community's Strategic Plan, complete with a vision statement, goals, objectives, strategies and an action plan to get a community started. For Jacksboro, this phase included a large strategic planning meeting that included everyone who had participated in the original course along with representatives from other stakeholder groups within the community. The meeting included a visioning exercise, the inputs from which were provided to Jacksboro’s leadership.
In the next step of this phase, seven key Jacksboro leaders traveled to TEEX headquarters in College Station, Texas, to discuss strategy and tour local landmarks. Given Jacksboro’s interest in revitalizing its downtown area, these leaders toured the recently restored Bryan, Texas downtown area and discussed strategy with a local developer involved in the Bryan restoration. Since Jacksboro is also focused on outdoor recreation, TEEX arranged for the delegation to tour several parks in the Bryan-College Station area to show them examples of what could be accomplished in Jacksboro.
The delegation and TEEX personnel then returned to headquarters, using what they learned to develop a new plan of action. After their departure, the city’s representatives determined which items to include in their strategic plan, which in turn were used by TEEX to create a comprehensive strategic plan complete with goals, objectives, and action plans.
Phase III: Successful Grant Writing Strategies
Once TEEX has delivered Jacksboro’s strategic plan, the city will need to apply for funding to fulfill its new work plans. Though the most common method of acquiring funds for small communities is grants, grant writing is a very costly, work intensive and detail-oriented process. Often smaller communities may not have a person or persons who have any grant writing experience at all. The most successful grant writers have years of experience and expertise---and TEEX has both.
Not only can TEEX assist with grant writing processes, they can also help communities locate funding sources based on their financial needs. The economic development professionals at TEEX have the experience and vast resources to put at your disposal to help you target the grant monies with the highest possibility of providing financial return on your investment. From start to finish, TEEX is willing to work with you and your community to ensure that your economic development strategies are on target and successful. Let TEEX put their knowledge and skills to work for your community today.
Next month, we will learn how TEEX helped the Permian Basin Regional Planning Commission develop a comprehensive economic development strategy.
Click here to view the brochure for TEEX's Economic Development Series http://www.ed-central.com/news/images/C09.3389.05-EconomicDevelopmentServicesBrochure.PDF
Texas Engineering Extension Service:
Technology & Economic Development
301 Tarrow Street
College Station, Texas 77840
About the Author: Alyssa Webb is the Communications Coordinator for AdventGX, an economic development and tourism consulting firm located in College Station, Texas. She is currently pursuing her graduate degree at Texas A&M University in the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences with an emphasis on community event planning and tourism marketing. Alyssa can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org