Public-private partnership aims to boost New Braunfels’ economic future | Community alert

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A New Braunfels public-private partnership announced a new six-point strategic plan to drive economic development at the Greater New Braunfels Economic Development Foundation’s quarterly investor meeting this week.

In addition to the Foundation, the partnership includes the Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce, New Braunfels Economic Development Corporation, City of New Braunfels, Comal County and New Braunfels Utilities.

The plan, titled Confluence Economic Strategy, is a five-year initiative and its implementation will officially begin in 2023.

The plan development process began earlier this year with a community assessment that examined New Braunfels’ data and competitiveness, combining original research and input from businesses, residents and community leaders to help identify potential threats and opportunities.

The plan has six strategic priorities:

Attract quality jobs in target industries.

Create competitive offices and industrial spaces.

Supporting the success of startups.

Align and optimize workforce assets.

Improve mobility and transportation options.

Execute proactive land use and development strategies.

Matt Tarleton, an Atlanta-based economic development consultant, facilitated the development of the plan with representatives and stakeholders from partner entities serving on the steering committee.

The first goal, according to Tarleton, is to update and refine the targeting of industries and occupations to align with resident skills and elevate the city’s reputation as a desirable location for business investment. in target industries.

The community assessment noted concerns that “well-educated and well-paid residents were increasingly being forced out of the community for jobs”.

According to Tarleton’s research, New Braunfels is experiencing a large net inflow of 5,795 workers earning less than $40,000, but a large net outflow of about 3,163 workers earning $40,000 or more.

The assessment also indicated that there was an increasing reliance on non-residents from surrounding areas to support the growth of low-wage jobs within the community who could not afford to live in the community. community.

“And then we have a large number of people who have chosen to live here, but unfortunately have to leave every day to find jobs in the professions they want,” Tarleton said. “And likewise, on the other side of the equation, those who work here and want to live in this wonderful place cannot afford to do so and cannot find the accommodation that will allow them to achieve a upward mobility in your community. ”

Tarleton also observed that “the region’s share of white-collar jobs in the I-35 megaregion is growing. Accelerating this positive momentum through targeted economic development strategies can help the community achieve better economic balance in terms of commuting flows and greater economic diversity in terms of job mix.

Tarleton also recommended making New Braunfels a prime office market along the I-35 corridor and preparing ready-to-use industrial properties to capture desirable immediate opportunities.

Throughout the input process, he said stakeholders repeatedly referenced a relative lack of office space as one of the biggest inhibitors to community competitiveness for various corporate jobs, professional and technical.

“You can promote your community, tell your story all day, meet all the companies, site selectors and brokers, but if you don’t have a great product, none of that matters. importance,” he said. “You need to have attractive office space to compete with Austin and San Antonio, and you need to have ready-to-use industrial sites.”

Tarleton also recommended creating an attractive space for startups that has a catalytic effect on the city’s ecosystem and provides access to programs that accelerate the job creation potential of startups.

“We probably don’t need to set up a program where we focus our resources on helping people start their business,” he said. “We have fundamental resources in the community that do this. Our opportunity is to focus on businesses here that want to grow, have serious growth aspirations, and are helping to accelerate that growth – helping them connect to capital resources so they can help us achieve our vision of bring in those jobs and create those jobs that match our residents’ needs.

Tarleton suggested improving the link between training programs and targeted industries or professions and advancing opportunities to enhance access to higher education.

“So many places I work with, when it comes to talent, their strategy is one thing: talent attraction,” he said. “It’s not an attractive community, and all they care about is attracting smart people to their community. You don’t have to worry about it. What we need to worry about is talent optimization, talent alignment, and workforce training alignment. So we have opportunities in this community to do that.

New Braunfels should also advance road and transportation infrastructure, Tarleton said, and improve pedestrian and transit connectivity through policies and partnerships.

“This is another area where ability is needed to compete with peers,” he said. “You all know that yes, there is a capacity needed on the roads, but there is also a capacity needed to support advocacy and legislative affairs so that we can be effective in getting the funding we need at the federal levels. and state to move these projects forward…we have to use our resources to make sure we can get more resources for our community.

The final point, according to Tarleton, is to initiate new developments that align with land use plans and support community goals, as well as engage in public-private partnerships to put desirable developments on the road. the market.

The community assessment, Tarleton said, concluded that “the rapid growth ahead of New Braunfels offers tremendous opportunity and choice. When so many communities ask, “How do we attract jobs? New Braunfels is able to ask, “How do we attract good jobs? Concerns about housing do not arise from a lack of supply but rather from “adequate supply”. While others need to drive growth, New Braunfels has the opportunity to guide and direct the growth ahead. It’s a huge point of privilege, but it comes with a clear expiration date: the city projects that there will be little to no developable land left by 2035 if current development rates continue. »

Tarleton concluded his presentation by stating that New Braunfels is “a community that has huge opportunities in front of you that so many places I work with don’t.”

Patrick Rose, President of the 2022 Foundation, said he was proud of the form and substance of Confluence.

“This plan appreciates the tremendous authenticity of New Braunfels and recognizes that one of the greatest legacies we can offer to current and future generations is more high-paying, high-skilled jobs located right here in our community. “, said Rose.

However, implementing the plan will require a strong fundraising effort to hire staff and cover associated expenses to keep pace with community growth and compete with peer cities along the I-35 corridor. and across the country.

Currently, the private funds collected by the Foundation complement the funds from an agreement between the Chamber and the Economic Development Corporation, which operates with an annual budget of approximately $680,000. About 30% is provided by the Foundation and the Economic Development Corporation provides 70%.

“Executing a plan of this magnitude is only possible through a public-private partnership,” said Ian Taylor, chief executive of NBU and 2022 Speaker of the House. “It will take all of us working together in alignment to advance our common economic development goals. »

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