Texas Rising May/June 2009

Local Government
Steps for Success:

Kerr County

Until 2003, Kerr Economic Development Foundation was managed part-time by the Kerrville Area Chamber of Commerce president. Without a separate identity and substantial funding – mostly from local government and utilities – its economic development reach was limited.

Now it receives funding from area businesses and public funding. Unlike many EDF entities in Texas, it does not administer the community’s primary economic development funding mechanism, the 4B sales tax. KEDF seeks project funding for economic development missions and tools, such as its Web site and strategic plan.

  • What’s posted? Extensive demographic data; available incentives; commercial property listings; and a plant location information form to outline investors’ needs to local economic development partners.
  • In 2008, KEDF obtained $10,000 from 4B funds to spend on Web site operations.
  • In the first three months of 2009, 8,732 user sessions – averaging 5 minutes, 23 seconds – were tracked. Almost 96 user sessions were logged daily, for a total of 241 page views.

E-ttracting Investment

by Gerard MacCrossan

Kerr EDF’s Web portal is first impression for interested investors

Twenty years ago, if a company was looking for a new location, out came a map and a phone book.

These days, the first tour of prospective communities generally begins with a URL or an Internet search engine. That means communities don’t know they’re being looked at until companies have narrowed their list of possible locations to three or four finalists, says Carlton Schwab, president of the Texas Economic Development Council.

“Before the Internet, as many as 15 or 20 locations would know you were looking,” he says. “The main difference now is they know so much more about you before they even contact you.

“Your Web site has to be so much more than providing good information. It has to be a good marketing piece as well that makes a case for going to visit,” Schwab says.

The Kerr Economic Development Foundation’s Web site is a work in progress, as the leaders in the community of almost 50,000, 45 minutes from San Antonio’s northwest suburbs, increase their efforts to recruit investors and expand work force opportunities.

In the past six years, responsibility for the area’s economic development has increasingly fallen to KEDF, or more specifically its sole employee, President Guy Overby.

“We’ve come a long way,” Overby says. “We basically designed our Web site about five years ago. Each year, we get more dollars to work on it.”

The site, www.kerredf.org, reflects budget constraints that prioritize substance over style. Overby hopes the $10,000 Web site budget will be doubled in the next fiscal year, enabling more content.

Locally produced videos, shot and edited by Web site producer TxES Media and featuring Overby, give potential investors insight into area projects by developers, the Texas Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is planning a new, larger research operation to replace a facility opened in 1961.

Key information on the site that could be useful to potential investors includes demographics, a city-county business incentives plan and KEDF’s strategic plan, which contains data on community goals for economic development.

“The strategic plan calls for a level of participation from 4B sales tax dollars,” Overby says. “More of that money needs to go to operating our marketing and Web site design efforts.”

More Web content will take more help. “That’s the biggest challenge for rural communities,” he says. The Web site also offers an application for economic development information. Overby mails out 12 to 15 economic packets each month. TR

Find out more about Kerr Economic Development Foundation or call President Guy Overby at (830) 896-1157.