President Marc Nigliazzo’s plans for Texas A&M University-Central Texas were reaffirmed Thursday as he listened to distinguished economists discuss ways to involve the community to boost economic development.

“From (the speakers) I learned that we’re doing a lot of things right,” Nigliazzo said. “We’re very pleased to have such large community support.”

About 100 community and business leaders, school administrators and economic developers from the Fort Hood-Killeen area attended the sixth annual economic conference Thursday at Beck Hall at Texas A&M-Central Texas.

Guest speaker Andrew J. Policano, academic director of the University of California-Irvine’s Center for Investment and Wealth Management, said the focus of this year’s event was higher education.

Policano said his center looks at the plight of public universities as funding decreases. The center also develops ways higher education institutions should respond.

“We talk about how universities have to think about their life without as much support from the government,” he said. “Our whole discussion revolved around how a partnership between public universities and economic development can be mutually beneficial to both because the better the community is, the easier it is for the university to attract great students and businesses.”

He said Texas A&M-Central Texas is already doing a “wonderful” job with university-community partnerships.

“Obviously, this is a university that has terrific interaction with the military, great support from the Army and interacts with the community,” he said.

Some of Policano’s suggestions included engaging with the chamber of commerce to discuss housing and business development, in addition to encouraging students to study subjects that will promote economic development.

Nigliazzo welcomed Policano’s suggestions.

“He’s got years and years of experience with lots of research,” Nigliazzo said.

Since the university is still under construction, Policano said, it has the advantage of developing programs many well-established institutions would have difficulty with.

“You could build an institute that focuses on banking and train students who (upon graduation) will bring other banks and financial institutions to the area,” Policano said.

Contact Sarah Rafique at or (254) 501-7549. Follow her on Twitter at KDHreporter.

I'm the education reporter at the Killeen Daily Herald. Follow me on Twitter at

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