Texas Rising - April/May 2011

Teaming Up

The Town Center at Creekside is one of New Braunfel’s newest developments.

Regional Partnering Combines Economic Development Resources by Tracey Lamphere

Three cities on the northeastern outskirts of San Antonio have pooled their economic development resources in an effort to become a regional recruiting powerhouse.

“We’re going to compete with the big cities for new business, but at the same time we are providing a niche for businesses that are looking to locate somewhere outside of San Antonio or Austin,” says Rusty Brockman, director of economic development for the Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce.

Working Together

In July 2010, New Braunfels, Schertz and Seguin economic development officials signed a contract creating the 10/35 Economic Development Alliance, agreeing to combine certain economic development efforts and providing a regional marketing strategy for attracting more business prospects. The alliance stems from the three cities’ proximity and access to Interstates 10 and 35.

Partnering is nothing new for these cities, which already share Guadalupe and Comal County resources and work force training facilities. For the past five years, Seguin and New Braunfels Economic Development officials have worked informally to support each other’s economic development activities.

New Braunfels worked closely with Seguin and the new Caterpillar plant, providing work force training to hundreds of workers at the Alamo College’s Central Texas Technology Center.

“That partnership was very important and benefited the entire region,” says Kate Silvas, assistant director for Seguin EDC. “I would encourage other communities to think outside of the box of their political jurisdictions and reach out to one another.”

Schertz Economic Development Corporation leaders were asked to join the alliance because of the recent flurry of new businesses. Schertz’s strategic location and increasing number of warehouse and distribution centers made it a natural fit, Brockman says. The recent announcements that spurred the three cities to formalize the alliance include Sysco Food’s new 635,000- square-foot distribution center in Schertz that is expected to be completed in late 2011, Caterpillar’s new Schertz plant that will supply its recently opened Seguin facility, and Baptist Health Systems’ planned hospital in north New Braunfels.

Since 2000 New Braunfels' population has grown from 36,494 to 57,540.  Seguin has grown from 22,011 to 25,175, and Schertz from 18,694 to 31,465.

“We thought that it made sense,” says Jeff Jewell, Schertz’s economic development director. “It makes us more competitive on a wider scale. We need to be taking original approaches with economic development because companies don’t just have options within the United States.”

More for Less

Silvas says the Seguin EDC has used the tri-city partnership to expand its outreach efforts without increasing its budget.

As an alliance, the three cities can better afford to participate in domestic and international trade missions “We are maximizing our monetary resources the best that we can,” Brockman says. “We’ll grow wealthier individual communities and a wealthier region. That kind of partnership is invaluable.” TR

For updates on the 10/35 Economic Development Alliance, visit the New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce.