Regional Cooperation Provides Benefits to All
“Don't tell me where your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I'll tell you what they are.” - James W. Frick
In other words, put your money where your mouth is.
That is so true, and recent developments in the Crossroads and Gulf Coast region indicate organizations are investing in the future and not simply discussing ideas and trends.
At the recently held South Texas Transportation Conference the Port Lavaca Chamber of Commerce was invited by the Victoria Chamber of Commerce to be an exhibitor and attend the information sessions.
The conference focused on an aspect of economic development that is absolutely vital - the transportation of goods and people.
The other closely related message centered on the power of promoting and developing a region in economic and community development.
A theme the Chamber has promoted throughout the year is working with our partners in this area to pool resources, facilitate job creation, workforce development and increase awareness of the region as an economic hub.
In August, one of our partners - the Small Business Development Center at the University of Houston-Victoria - moved into the just opened new Center for Economic Development & Entrepreneurship and Joe Humphreys ( the speaker at the Chamber's first Wake Up Port Lavaca community breakfast ) will serve as the executive director.
The state of the art facility was partially funded by the Texas Legislature for $6.7 million specifically to develop a Regional Center for Economic Development. The total cost of the facility is approximately $16 million and it will serve as the home of the Center for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship.
These investments are proof we are making regional economic development a priority in our area.
“The Regional Center for Economic Development will bring people and ideas together,” Humphreys said.
“When you get into economic development, some communities are strong in one thing and not as strong in another. We’re going to find out everyone’s strengths and use them to create regional growth.”
The regional approach to economic development has caught on elsewhere during the past decade and the Chamber has discussed the advantages of combining resources with our partners in Victoria, Rockport, Cuero and other nearby communities.
UHV and the Center for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship are the perfect catalyst to jump start the regional approach to economic development because they are a regional organization and are not tied to any one municipality.
Port Lavaca really is poised to be a leader in the economic growth of this region. Some so called challenges could certainly prove to be the source of our greatest opportunities.
In many metropolitan areas, Port Lavaca would be considered a suburb. On the outskirts of the metro's core. Away from the high density population and commercial areas. Kind of quiet, safer streets, friendly neighbors, no traffic to fight.
Since our area is more rural, the distance to major population centers is seen as a negative. I contend this is a good thing for our region, especially if, as some studies suggest, the population of Texas doubles by 2050.
Port Lavaca has great access to transportation. There are three distinct ports in Corpus Christi, Victoria and Port Lavaca. There is abundant access to rail and three major providers. There isn't currently an interstate highway but state highways 35 and 87 which intersect in Port Lavaca, as well as highway 59 outside of Victoria provide a network that leads to some of the biggest markets in the United States.
Not to mention the Interstate 69 extension project which is currently underway.
Air travel and cargo service are available in a number of easy to reach locations and expansion of service at Victoria Regional Airport is planned.
Workforce development and higher education are often mentioned as challenges but again, the length of time it takes to reach major universities and technical colleges is not much more (if any more at all) than the commute many people in major metropolitan areas make every day.
Ask a suburbanite in Atlanta, DC, or Seattle if they would rather commute for 90 minutes to travel 40 miles or drive for 90 minutes on a wide open highway driving from Port Lavaca to Corpus Christi or the Houston area. I did it for years in the Kansas City metro area - I guarantee you I much prefer the drives in south Texas.
The expansions and investment in regional economic development and workforce development at both University of Houston- Victoria and Victoria College, means higher education and workforce training are just a half hour away from our quaint location on the Gulf Coast.
Our area, unlike most of the country, is fortunate to have major employers throughout the region which are stable and even flourishing creating more and more job opportunities.
Much of economic development boils down to one word - access. Communities that have it thrive, those that don't falter. Does your area have access to multiple means of transportation, quality education systems, a qualified workforce, good health care facilities, reliable public safety, various recreation and amenities? Port Lavaca does. Could it improve? Absolutely and we continue to strive toward that goal.
Our coastal location and potential as a tourism destination has been under utilized but the Chamber of Commerce is working to ensure that is no longer the case. Many of the reasons the region is a prime location for businesses and residents also make it an ideal place for people to make day trips, long weekends, or for "winter Texans" to relax and wait out the cold months.
Eco-tourism is attracting more and more visitors to the Gulf Coast region. Fishing, kayaking, bird watching and simply enjoying a relaxing day on the beach seem to have a lot of appeal to folks who spend 40+ hours a week fighting the hustle and bustle of metro area living.
So we are preparing to finish up the third quarter of 2015 with a bang but you can be sure the Chamber is already thinking about 2016 and beyond.
The Chamber's Hospitality and Tourism Committee has been meeting to consider additional events and we are not closing the door on any ideas at this point. If you have ideas for events in this area let us know. With the right resources anything is possible.
Port Lavaca's location, our assets, and our people make this a wonderful place to live. There is no doubt it can be just as wonderful for visitors.
Port Lavaca Chamber of Commerce