Kerrville has many great advantages and is well positioned for future growth and development. Despite these advantages, we have a significant shortcoming. We have a shallow labor pool and extremely limited housing options for those wishing to have a career in our community.
Attracting the kind of companies to our community who will ultimately support the city’s economic growth potential requires concerted, proactive and effective economic development efforts backed up with the housing options necessary to accommodate a growing middle-class workforce.
In the proactive implementation of the planned and thoughtful growth of our local economy, we view the engagement and recruitment of the best companies to join our community as fundamental. We want companies that bring high paying jobs and who operate in an environmentally friendly fashion. We want companies who are community-minded and involved. We want companies who have the financial strength and strategic position to survive and thrive over the long term. We also understand that every community wants this type of company and that to be successful, we need to compete to win.
We also need to support our current businesses and their growth aspirations. Our great local businesses, large and small, are the engines that will drive our economy into a prosperous future. These businesses need a continuous flow of highly qualified employees to support and lead their growth and success.
As a core value, our community has always supported and encouraged the development of opportunities for all citizens and future generations. We have historically strongly supported the growth of our middle class and middle-class families. The demographic shift toward a more robust middle class requires quality jobs and housing options to support the needs of this important part of our community.
We must, perhaps more importantly, capture the imaginations of and provide opportunities for our young people. We need to ensure that whether a student is graduating from Tivy High School or from one of our great colleges, they have the opportunity to establish a life and a career in our community. To achieve this, we again need high-quality, career-oriented jobs provided by the best companies and the starter homes to accommodate their needs.
The reality that we all face is that it’s an incredibly competitive world. This competitive landscape is particularly acute in the State of Texas. Top-flight companies are moving to Texas but they are very selective and deliberate in how they choose to invest and in where they choose to locate. If we, as a community, aren’t proactively working to attract companies and if we don’t have the necessary employment pool on offer to gain their commitment to establish in Kerrville, we will certainly miss valuable opportunities in this challenging market. We will also lose, to some degree, control of our own destiny.
Many cities are wrestling with the limited availability of workforce housing. In Kerrville we are advantaged to have city leadership that both understands and has prioritized this issue as critical. We also have a community-generated comprehensive plan that likewise prioritizes this issue as urgent. After concerted and focused effort, we now have engagement from top flight developers and the opportunity to make real progress in closing the work force housing gap in the near term.
We encourage the continued focus on and support of the implementation of workforce housing projects in Kerrville. The communities that figure out how to effectively address the work force housing issue will win and those who don’t will lose. It’s really just that simple. We need to win for our community.
Walt Koenig is the President and CEO of the Kerrville Area Chamber of Commerce.