Ana Borchardt has been the director of business expansion and retention at the Belton Economic Development Corporation for nearly five years.
Along with the rest of the team at the Belton EDC, Borchardt has helped new businesses in Belton develop from the ground up.
In fact, the Belton EDC has been recognized twice recently for its work with global information technology and business process services provider CGI.
Borchardt sat down with the Herald to discuss the recent flurry of activity at the Belton EDC.
You all have been very busy lately. Can you summarize some of the things the EDC has been busy with?
Well, we received two recognitions, actually. One was from the Texas Economic Development Council. We received a community economic development award for a community of our sized. We were recognized for the project with CGI. To complete that project, we had to work with different entities in the city, the county and the state. We’re very excited about that. We also received recognition from the International Economic Development Council. They had an event in Houston right after the Texas Economic Council Event. We received a new media award for our website. So that was pretty exciting too. We are partnering with the Business Resource Center (in Killeen). They actually had their first day of counseling this month. The plan is for them to be here the first Tuesday of every month from nine to five. We will also be hosting some workshops with them. And our executive director, Cynthia Hernandez, had a baby this week. That is very big news.
Will these awards help the Belton EDC going forward?
I think one of things that these do for us is that when the news is out there that we can actually put a program together with those partnerships in place, it is encouraging for site selectors who look at our community. The fact is, we helped bring projects here and we accomplished a lot as a team. The recognition is very positive because it brings attention to that fact. It shows that we have a history of developing the types of projects that are attractive to companies like CGI.
What kind of impact do you think the project with CGI will have on the community?
Four-hundred jobs. That is going to be pretty significant. Not just for Belton, but for the region. Hopefully, we can attract more like them. The fact that they are here should attract more commercial development. When there is activity, it attracts other businesses. It also attracts complementary businesses like restaurants. Hopefully, the job opportunities will attract people to live in Belto. CGI already has 100 employees working out of a temporary spot. My understanding is they want to host a grand opening in December. The building is up, but they are still working on it. Not long ago, it was just a field. It will definitely attract more businesses to the park.
How important is it for businesses in Belton to work with businesses in the Killeen-Fort Hood area?
I think we do have a relationship with Killeen and the surrounding communities. We have a partnership with the Fort Hood Economic Region, so that has helped strengthen that relationship. We have been working with the Business Resource Center for a long time. Now it is just more formal. Instead of having to drive all the way to Killeen to attend a workshop, people can do that here. But in general, I think the businesses in Belton and Killeen cooperate with each other and are very aware of one another.
What new projects is the Belton EDC working on?
We are working with businesses that are looking at the park. There will be more activity at the Business Park. We’re also freshening up our marketing materials to reflect some of our changes. For instance, CGI is now using a large space at the park, so we have to get everything up to date. We are trying to market Belton as the center of this big MSA because we are right in the middle of it. The numbers we include in our community reflect the whole MSA because that is how we can grab the attention of people from outside. As far as other projects ... there is a lot of activity at the park and in other places in the community, but nothing we are ready to announce.