The year 2016 will go down as one of the most successful in the history of the Round Rock Chamber and our economic-generation mission.
As we count down the last hours of the year, it is the customary time to take a moment to reflect on what we — with support from of our board of directors, stakeholders, partners and high-performing staff — were able to accomplish over the past 12 months.
We secured six economic development wins representing approximately 1,900 jobs and over $500 million in capital investment. The highest profile of these being the recruitment of Kalahari Resorts, which will develop a first-class resort, convention center and indoor water park.
Our more than 135 business retention and expansion visits means that we were meeting with and assisting at least one Round Rock company every other day. We continued our collaboration with the Williamson County Economic Development Partnership, a countywide coalition focused on marketing the area as one. We launched the Twelve@12 program, which gives business executives an opportunity to talk one-on-one with community leadership.
We maintained our focus on meeting the community’s workforce needs as laid out in our Workforce Realization Occurring Cooperatively strategy that we developed last year.
One component of the strategy was creation of a plan to expand the accelerated learning and certification programs in Round Rock, which we completed in November and hope to roll out in early 2017. We developed a workforce provider matrix that gives social-assistance entities an easy-to-access resource of workforce-related recommendations.
We also supported our goal of increased completion rates for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, developed the Internship Toolkit and hosted the first-ever Launch Workforce Conference focused on internships.
In February, we launched the community entrepreneurship strategy REV UP Round Rock, which is designed to create a more vibrant entrepreneurial culture within our city. As part of REV UP’s implementation, we announced the e-Stories Project, a collection of narratives that give the backstories of Round Rock-based entrepreneurs.
We also started a series of events called Spark, which features successful entrepreneurs who provide the good, the bad and the ugly of how they navigated the scary entrepreneurial waters.
In only its second year of existence, we grew the educator externship program from an initial six participants to a 2016 total of 41. Last month, we released a new offering called Professional Relocation Optimization, or PRO, Round Rock, which is a suite of executive recruitment resources. Plus, we created a new issues council structure, significantly broadened our public policy positions, implemented an investor satisfaction survey, developed a relationship with Southwestern University, launched industry specific videos for our website and received multiple grants and awards for our work.
We cannot, however, rest on our laurels. We must continue to push forward in order to deliver meaningful and measurable results for the Round Rock business community in areas of need.
With that in mind, we have developed a 2017 business plan which includes over 30 impactful items. Of that 30, we have five top priorities that will be the constant focus of our work next year.
We have created a robust economic development project pipeline, both in the areas of business retention and expansion and business attraction. As such, we will strive to generate eight economic development project wins over the next 12 months with special attention on our six target industry sectors.
We will design a skilled trades image campaign that is dedicated to showing students and their support structure that the skilled trades are a legitimate career path. We will develop two more programs devoted to entrepreneurs. One will be the development of an entrepreneurial advisory committee that will help new and potential entrepreneurs during their uncertain journey. The other will be the establishment of Entrepreneurship Round Rock, which will be a multi-month curriculum designed to assist budding entrepreneurs as they start their enterprises.
Maintaining the REV UP Round Rock theme, we will work in cooperation with school district leaders to design a greater level of youth entrepreneurship education opportunities.
Round Rock is a tremendous place to do business and we will do everything that we can possibly do to keep it that way. With your continued support and assistance, we will work to produce significant results that generate positive economic activity for all.
To engage in our efforts, visit roundrockchamber.org.