By Don Bolding
Killeen Daily Herald
Members of the Rotary Club of Killeen/Heights Friday morning heard Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce President John Crutchfield describe the recommendations of an Austin consulting firm on fostering Killeen's growth.
On April 11, Crutchfield, representatives of the city, the chamber and of the Killeen Economic Development Corp., heard an 129-page report by TIP Strategies, Inc., of Austin.
"Our job now is prioritizing," Crutchfield said. "We may not be able to do all they recommended, but the study gives us a blueprint."
The $150,000 study, commissioned by the GKCC, the City of Killeen and the Heart of Texas Defense Alliance, was financed by a matching grant from the federal Office of Economic Adjustment, which provided about 90 percent of the funds.
Among other actions, it recommends:
n A promotional campaign to win support for establishment of Texas A&M University-Central Texas.
n Keeping track of the intentions, educational levels, skills and aspirations of soldiers exiting active duty at Fort Hood.
n Fostering technical support, networking, funding development and other activities in support of entrepreneurship and small business.
n Working to retain existing businesses through maintaining a directory and promoting communication.
n Supporting training, research, site development and funding options for industry.
n Developing a new marketing campaign to enhance the community's image and concentrate information relating to economic development;
n Continuing efforts to expand commercial aviation opportunities.
n Increasing recreation and entertainment options.
n Implementing a coordinated retail attraction strategy.
n Developing health care, information technology, transportation/logistics and business services.
The report cites the area's strengths, inclulding the $6 billion economic impact of Fort Hood, a strong regional workforce enhanced by soldiers separating from the service, the growing population of Bell County, the strength of the Central Texas Workforce Centers, strong public schools and higher education, Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport, racial/ethnic diversity and integration, growing and affordable housing stock, large numbers of service, retail and dining establishments, the Civic and Conference Center and a positive business climate.
However, reported weaknesses include: lack of diversified employment (too much service and retail employment), distance from Interstate 35, pervasiveness of low-paying service jobs, lack of economic-development sales tax, a need for a new industrial/technology park, lack of high-end housing, and chronically high unemployment levels in Killeen compared with the rest of the state.
Crutchfield said players in the implementation process likely would include the GKCC, the city, HOTDA, Army career counselors and the Texas Veterans Commission. Representatives have already met once to start determining priorities.
Among other business Friday morning, Tim Stroud recognized members who "underpromised and overdelivered" for the live auction at the club's Crawfish Boil from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. today at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center. Members and their donations included:
n Jim Foster of Killeen Power Sports, $500 in motorcycling apparel.
n Harry Macey III of Perry Office Plus, $2,000 in office equipment.
n David Bay of Cleo Bay Honda, a $500 DVD player.
n Gene Davenport, two longhorn cattle.
n Rob Thomas of T&R Fence, a $750 swing set.
n Central Texas College, represented by Barbara Merlow, a custom-designed planetarium show.
Contact Don Bolding at email@example.com