When people find out that I work for the Victoria Economic Development Corporation, they often ask me what my organization is doing to bring retailers and restaurants to Victoria. While that’s certainly a worthy goal, it’s important to remember that economic development is a multifaceted endeavor, and any community that wants to grow its economy must be willing to grow by taking multiple avenues.
The VEDC focuses on one aspect of economic development: cultivating industries that create primary jobs. Primary job companies are those that create goods or services that will be sold outside of the Victoria area with revenues returning back to the community.
These companies are crucial to building a healthy economy because they bring new wealth to our region, essentially “importing” wealth while exporting goods and services. Many of the companies we work with are national or even international, which is a good fit for our strategy since they create jobs and pay taxes locally while making local products available to the wider world.
Much of what we do can be summed up in the word “confidence”: We build companies’ confidence in our region, which makes them more willing to locate here or, in the case of an established company, stay or expand. Our efforts to market Victoria recently resulted in the development of two new power plants, which will greatly help our tax base.
We also recently helped one of our established companies, Invista, to finalize a modernization project that will help to retain jobs. We helped leadership at the Victoria site secure tax abatements and incentives that encouraged the corporate management at Invista to make an investment decision to upgrade the Victoria site over its other locations. Incentives can’t make a bad site good, but they can make a good site better, and they can often make or break a company’s decision to invest.
Although we aren’t directly involved with growing retail businesses, primary industries play an important role in retail recruitment. Big retailers and restaurants are most interested in regions whose residents have a lot of disposable income, so bringing more wealth to our region helps to attract these types of businesses.
The reverse is also true: A good environment for retailers creates a positive atmosphere for primary job companies. When we recruited Caterpillar to Victoria, they took a close look at our community to see whether it was the type of place their employees would want to live. The same retail options that excite our residents can also help us attract and retain a workforce for our large industries.
Because different aspects of economic development are closely related, it’s important for organizations impacting business growth to work together. The VEDC is pleased to share resources and facilitate connections that will boost all areas of economic development. We’re proud to partner with the City of Victoria through the Victoria Sales Tax Development Corporation, The Retail Coach and other groups that are also in the business of growing Victoria’s economy.
If you want to learn more about the VEDC and share your thoughts, I encourage you to come to our VEDC Victoria Partnership meeting, held at 7:30 a.m. every Tuesday at the Leo J. Welder Center for the Performing Arts. A good economic development strategy takes all of us, and we’d love to share with you all that we’re doing to grow Victoria’s wealth.
Dale Fowler is a certified economic developer and president of the Victoria Economic Development Corporation.
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