By Audrey Spencer
Killeen Daily Herald
COPPERAS COVE - A variety of representatives were present for the first meeting of the newly formed Coryell County Economic Development Board Thursday.
Three official members of the five-person advisory committee were present, along with interested leaders from the Copperas Cove and Gatesville communities, to learn what the goals and system of the newly-created organization will be.
Coryell County Judge John Firth said the purpose of the board is to leverage economic opportunities in the county, much the same as an economic development board does for city entities.
Dick Van Dyke, the organization's interim president, was encouraged by the number of people who attended the meeting, including representatives from chambers of commerce, economic development boards and the county's commissioners' court.
"There's more enthusiasm coming out of this group than is normally expected," he said.
Polo Enriquez, executive director of the Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation, and Jim Aanstoos, business retention specialist with the corporation, briefed the attendees on local and nationwide economic trends.
Enriquez shared what he learned at an Atlanta conference last month, including new business trends and the elements businesses look for when expanding or relocating. The "find the dirt first" mind set is being replaced by a need to find skill sets, he said.
Companies are becoming more concerned with finding a competent, trained workforce than they have been in the past, but the corporate world "has little or no knowledge about the military and its occupations," said Enriquez.
"They can't make the connection that these people have the skills and ability," he said. "We must provide information that clearly defines that military occupations have value in the corporate world."
Other topics addressed at the meeting were the importance of business retention and attracting light industrial and manufacturing firms to the area.
Marty Smith-Cook, former president of the Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce, is on the board and was impressed by the turnout.
"The enthusiasm, my God, you've gotta have that," she said. "I would hope we'd be able to work with the EDC and Fort Hood to bring more business to our area."
A date for the next meeting was not set Thursday, but the general agreement was to have monthly meetings and quarterly open sessions for major presentations. The board's agendas will be posted on the Coryell County website, www.coryellcounty.org, on the Public Notice Board.
Contact Audrey Spencer at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7476.