By Jade Ortego

Killeen Daily Herald

BELTON – The city of Belton, Belton Chamber of Commerce and Belton Economic Development Corporation have partnered with AngelouEconomics, a consulting firm, to implement Belton Tomorrow, a plan aimed at promoting economic growth.

AngelouEconomics analyzed Belton's demographics to identify what the city should do to expand.

A big part of the plan is attracting "appropriate" businesses to the area, Chamber president and CEO Stephanie O'Banion said.

"We're obviously in a strong part of the country, but we're also in the middle of Killeen and Temple and Fort Hood and Waco and Austin," O'Banion said.

"We're probably not going to attract big market heights, but what is it that we have a niche for that will meet our needs as well as compliment the region?"

The plan will be a team effort on the part of the chamber, BEDC, city management, Belton Independent School District, other groups and residents.

"It really brought all the key partners in the community together to cast vision of where we want to go in the future and what's realistic," O'Banion said.

Part of the plan involves retaining young professionals. According to the AngelouEconomics Web site, Belton's population is aging swiftly because younger people leave for jobs and don't return. This demographic is important for economic development because they possess technological skills necessary for innovation.

"Regional access to quality education, when coupled with low educational attainment and a declining number of young professionals, indicates that Belton is threatened with ... a situation in which young, educated professionals move away from a community to a city with greater job opportunities, higher wages and desired cultural amenities, leaving the community with a lack of highly educated, innovative professionals and entrepreneurs," according to their assessment.

Among other strengths and weaknesses, the market assessment found that Belton has what the consulting firm considers a high amount of cultural and recreation amenities, but an insufficient number of hotels and motels to accommodate visitors.

The firm provided the city with a vision statement and nine broad goals, with details on how to achieve them. The goals included "capitalize upon Belton's unique tourism assets," and "narrow the gap between median incomes versus the region."

These goals largely involve attracting businesses – particularly lodging, entertainment and retail – to Belton they are being siphoned by surrounding communities.

"Basically we have a vision now of how we're going to move forward and be focused in certain areas and certain responsibilities for each of these entities for specific economic development in Belton," BEDC executive director Tommy Baker said.

"Everybody's real excited, we feel like we've got a road map."

Contact Jade Ortego at or (254) 501-7553.

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