by: Scott Thomas / Community Impact Newspaper
The Round Rock Chamber highlighted initiatives it plans to launch in 2016 as well as its successes from the past year during its Dec. 8 Power Lunch.
“Our 2016 priorities are designed to provide Round Rock companies a strengthened environment in which to conduct business and achieve success,” said Mike Odom, the chamber’s president and CEO. “They perfectly align with our investors’ needs and our mission of leading economic generation in our community.”
Odom said in 2016 the chamber will help generate eight economic development wins.
“Our pipeline is very full,” he said. “As the national economy improves, the [economic development] market is going to get more competitive.”
Local and global economic factors helped Odom reach his prediction, he said.
“We’re going to build more jobs, more wealth and more capital investment,” he said.
Those new jobs are likely to further grow Round Rock’s population, which the chamber will work to manage during 2016, Odam said.
“No one wants to stop [growth] or slow it, but everyone wants to control it so it doesn’t control us,” Odom said.
As part of next year’s effort, Odom said the chamber will work with the city’s land use plan to find a balance between residential and commercial developments. The plan will consider factors such as roads, zoning and infrastructure, he said.
Also in 2016 the chamber aims to create a strategy that expands the accelerated learning and certification programs in Round Rock.
“We have [workforce] needs right now. We can’t wait six months. We need people ready in 6 weeks,” Odom said. “We need more plumbers, [heating, ventilating and air conditioning technicians] and electricians. We need to ensure the people who do this kind of work have a place to go.”
The chamber next year also intends to develop a suite of executive recruitment resources. Odom said businesses need more executives, and those executives often do not live in Round Rock when they get hired at companies within the city.
“We’re going to build a suite of resources [to attract executives],” Odom said. “When we recruit companies we want their executives to live here. That helps with retention, and helps get more involvement in our schools.”
As a final stated priority, the chamber intends to further implement eight pillars within its economic generation strategy, which officials unveiled in February.
Odom also highlighted several chamber success stories in 2015. He said the chamber secured nine economic development wins, representing about 1,400 jobs, and also completed 130 business retention and expansion visits.
Furthermore, he said the chamber launched a workforce strategy, began an externship program with Round Rock ISD to get educators into companies related to their subject matter, advocated for the adoptions of Triple Freeport Tax exempt status, implemented the WilCo Economic Development Partnership, and launched an online small business guide, among other successes.