This week is National Economic Development Week, a celebration of the programs and professionals that grow communities and economies. Economic Development Week was created by the International Economic Development Council in 2016 to increase awareness of local programs that create jobs, advance career development opportunities, and improve the quality of life in cities across the country.
At the Round Rock Chamber, every part of our program is directly related to economic development. Recruiting new business to the area is an important part of our program, but it is one component of many. Currently, we are very engaged in the 87th Session of the Texas Legislature advocating on behalf of your business because good policy is the foundation of economic growth. We do recruit new employers like Ametrine to Round Rock, but we also support the startup business community, and work with existing employers and partners to expand talent development and skills training opportunities. All of these elements, combined with a financially strong, investor-led organization, are necessary for a community to succeed in having the conditions that support employers to succeed and grow.
As a community, Round Rock has a demonstrated understanding that it is partnerships that make this work possible. The Chamber proudly works hand-in-glove with the City of Round Rock to market the community and provide business supportive programs. The private sector, in turn, invests directly in these programs as well through the Momentum Campaign. The 81 private companies that invest in the Momentum program make this unique public-private partnership model possible, and it is one of the reasons the track record for Round Rock has been so successful. We thank the city and all of our investors for making this program possible.
The impact of the Round Rock Chamber’s economic development program over time is compelling. Between 2012 and 2020, the Chamber assisted 72 new companies to locate in Round Rock, creating more than 7,300 new jobs and over $1.7 billion of direct investment. Each year, the projects this program has supported create a total economic output of $3.3 billion in this economy. You can review the Impact Datasource analysis for 2012 – 2019 here. Last fall, the community celebrated the grand opening of Kalahari Resorts in Round Rock. It took hundreds of people working in partnership to bring the largest single corporate investment to Round Rock, but the process began with a member of the Chamber’s economic development team reaching out and starting a conversation. If programs like this aren’t present in communities, we risk missing out on this type of major opportunity.
While bringing new business and new employers to the area is always exciting, we do a huge amount of work with existing employers to help them grow and solve problems. Last year, in response to the coronavirus shutdown, we provided direct assistance to over 130 employers, and information to hundreds more about the PPP loan program, ordinances, resources, and local assistance available. This year we are relaunching our business visitation program, which has been directly associated with our efforts to support workforce development because employers nation-wide are expressing challenges in finding the trained and experienced talent. Additionally, our entrepreneurship and small business programs continue to expand, and Round Rock Cares and WilCo Forward provided millions of dollars of support to small business when it was critically needed. Your Chamber serves this community with zeal and pride.
I realize, some reading this my ask, “why should I care?”, or may believe, “this is great for business but doesn’t help me”. Respectfully, I would make the argument that all citizens in Round Rock should care, and that you are directly helped by this work, even if you are not a business owner. The following are two reasons:
Reason #1 Your property taxes in Round Rock are lower than they would be without a strong business community. If you feel your property taxes are too high, remember they would be higher without the property tax, sales tax, and fees generated by businesses in Round Rock. In short, the property tax rate in Round Rock is 43.9 cents per $100 assessed value. That rate is 14.4 cents lower due to the presence and activity of businesses. For the median home owner in Round Rock that means their property tax bill is about 25% lower, saving $31 per month (or $372 per year). In total, residential property tax contributes about 20% of the total city general fund each year.
Reason #2 Economic development helps individuals and families achieve a higher quality of life. The community often hears our program talk about the views of business leaders, and what is considered good policy for business. We do this because our foundational belief is that businesses will invest and grow where there is a supportive business climate and a growing economy will create opportunities for individuals and families to improve their own quality of life. When economies grow, new and higher paying jobs become available, new education and training programs are developed for those seeking new opportunities, and people interested in starting a business can become entrepreneurs and employers themselves.
We love the work we do as economic developers. Our team thanks you for making this organization strong, and for the privilege to serve this community. Thank you!