Being the volunteer chairman of an economic development corporation or a private non-profit entity involved in recruiting new jobs and investment is rewarding, but not in the monetary sense. It is more like a psychological paycheck!
I have been fortunate to chair both organizations involved locally in this job recruiting endeavor, and I can attest to the fact that many seeds are planted before you can sit under one tree. In New Braunfels, we have the well-earned reputation of being conservative in our approach toward job and wealth creation. In my last article, I shared how many communities are very aggressive and want to “win the deal” at any cost. Not here.
The staff at the chamber is the marketing and recruiting entity that is the “first contact” for responses to outreach efforts. Marketing is targeted to primary employers that will be long-term employers in sustainable industries. The chamber is assisted in this effort by the governor’s office of Economic Development and Tourism.
In most other states, it is the state economic development entity that controls the “deal” so to speak. In Texas, economic development is done at the local level. However, the state receives many inquiries which they distribute for cities to respond to. Currently our team is working on two such companies received from the Governor’s Office that look very promising.
Most companies looking to expand operations or relocate use a site selection firm to assist them. These site selectors utilize websites of the local economic development organizations to determine if that community may be a good fit or not. Therefore our website has to be state of the art and up to date with the customized information that these site selectors require. I am told that more than 80% of site searches are done and communities don’t even know they are being selected or eliminated. Technology is critical for this process to be successful!
But there comes a point when the data has been crunched “virtually” and a site visit is held with face to face meetings with local officials. Various land and building sites are further evaluated and the company explains their needs for such things as the workforce, training, utilities, etc. Further eliminations are made from these visits and hopefully we become a finalist for the company.
Our city staff and their vendors evaluate the benefit of the company to the city, determine whether or not an investment is warranted to get them to come here, and what claw backs will be applied (required by state law) in case the company does not meet the agreed to benchmarks of jobs, investment and wages.
Many of the above steps sometimes take years to complete, and some occur in just a few months. Confidentiality is key. In the coming weeks I hope we will be reading about some new major companies coming to our beautiful community, making New Braunfels even more sustainable into the future.