“My number one priority is housing,” he said. “There’s an extremely tight market here. There are very few places for people to live.”
Arredondo has obtained a letter of intent from a contractor who is ready to come to town to build homes. An apartment complex is also being bandied.
The county-owned property in front of the community center is being considered for the housing complex.
“How fast the city and county moves will determine the time-frame,” Arrendondo said. “Forty to 60 days is needed for infrastructure.”
The number two priority is good-paying jobs.
“Little towns die off because the kids go off to college and never return,” Arredondo said. “They won’t come back unless there are jobs that pay at least $40,000 to $60,000. People need to make enough to support a family.”
Arredondo said small businesses will grow the county’s economy, but, he cautions, growth doesn’t come fast.
Joe Humphreys, director of the Small Business Development Center Network in Victoria, will be a partner for new developing businesses. Refugio County has lagged behind other counties in the area in using the Victoria service.
Only seven of its 346 clients were assisted in Refugio and no jobs were created and retained while 406 were tallied from the other counties, according to SMDCN calculations.
Humphreys has great contacts and can provide the guidance for entrepreneurship, Arredondo said.
“Anyone who says they can develop 200 jobs in a year is lying,” he said. “Refugio County can’t handle a large company like Toyota or Caterpillar. When Caterpillar moved into Seguin, it took years to prepare the infrastructure. Ten new jobs over a two-year period is incredible growth for the county.”
Obtaining grants and seeing them to fruition also take time, he said. Smart, steady progress leads to the long-term goals for growth.
The new director says the county has all the attributes to attract business and people, like good schools and safe communities.
Procedures have been streamlined and the office organized since his arrival to reach the goals set out by Arredondo and the foundation.
“This office will be run like Switzerland - no politics here,” he said. “Our operation will be transparent with an open-door policy.”
The new director is methodically traveling around the county to get a feel for what’s here as well as what’s not here. On Friday, he visited Austwell.
Tuesday morning, Arredondo was introduced at the commissioners court meeting.
Like his uncle who was also an economic development commissioner in Falfurrious, Arredondo has seen how steady growth can change a community.
“You can make things happen but it takes time,” he said.