Can we all agree that a rising economic tide provides widespread benefits to a community’s public sector, private sector and citizenry?
For the public sector, there’s an expanded tax base which is clearly preferential to a contracting tax base.
For the private sector businesses, there’s both increased retail and service opportunities.
And, for the citizens there are employment opportunities, wage growth potential, new dining and retail options and the expanded tax base to help foot the costs of new water systems, new schools, etc.
While Bee County lacks some economic advantages that benefit others – navigable waterways, massive shale plays, interstate highways, scenic hill country and such – it hasn’t done badly through the years by landing a Navy base and a community college. That was done through the hustle of local leaders exercising vision and working together, but the economic development tools that worked in 1943 or 1965 aren’t exactly state of the art anymore.
That’s essentially the drive behind the creation of the Bee Area Partnership (BAP).
When surveying statewide economic activity, many counties with more advantages already are far better organized that Bee County. When a request for proposals goes out from the state, being able to respond quickly and professionally provides a leg up.
Think about it from a potential industrial prospect looking to locate a plant in the state, or even our region. Is it easier to work with a one-stop, organized contact that can provide customized information on labor market skill sets, educational training support options, potential acreage or warehouse availability, technical requirements for access to world-class runways, local financing options, utilities, and more? Or would you rather wait for a Keystone Kops approach of a splintered community in political disarray to pull itself together?
Take a look at San Patricio County. It has the advantage of access to the Port of Corpus Christi, yet it has a dynamic economic development arm to maximize its efforts. That’s paying off not only around the port but also with a burgeoning steel industry locating there with several plants. Someone had to coordinate that.
Does anyone really think those plants would be coming online there if they had to navigate all the issues without the benefit of local coordination?
The formation of BAP is to give Bee County that tool that is lacking and so many other counties have put to good use.
Unless your county is blessed with natural or economic resources in high demand, growth is going to require more than dumb luck.
So rather than seeing various private and governmental bodies duplicate economic development efforts – or worse, ignore processes that need attention long before an interested party seeks a proposal – we need to consolidate efforts in the BAP to be that clearinghouse of data and services.
We all know it’s a competitive world and when trying to convince someone to invest millions of dollars in your community, we probably have one opportunity to put our best foot forward.
What say we ditch the flip-flops?