State of the City (Part 4): Diverse and Growing Economy
Restructuring Economic Development
As a part of the city-wide reorganization plan that was implemented in July, the Economic Development Department was dissolved and its responsibilities were transferred to the City Manager’s Office. It is now managed by a deputy city manager. Placing economic development in this office has allowed for a more efficient and effective handling of the city’s economic development activities. We’re already beginning to see the benefits of this decision as a number of major development opportunities are being actively pursued.
One of the biggest economic development accomplishments has been the development of the Inter-Local Agreement between the cities of College Station and Bryan for the future development of the Research Valley BioCorridor, which is located on approximately 196 acres of land on the western edge of the cities. Staff and members of the city council have worked tirelessly on the agreement that allows the cities to collaborate, develop and manage the environment for the growth of the BioCorridor. It is not an overstatement to say that this ILA and the work both cities have agreed to perform will lay the groundwork for what potentially could be the biggest and most important catalyst for economic growth in our community since Texas A&M was founded.
For nearly three years, the Medical District concept has evolved and gained momentum. Through the work of our Planning and Development staff, as well as a council-appointed citizens committee, the master planning process that started in February 2011 is nearing completion and will be presented for adoption this spring. The purpose of this plan is to capitalize on our community’s rapidly-expanding health care industry and utilize great resources such as the College Station Medical Center, which recently expanded its emergency center, and the new $130 million Scott & White Hospital and Clinic, which broke ground in March. Implementation of this plan will be critical in the coming years as College Station continues to become a destination for retirees.
Impact of Regulations
After convening a group of business and development representatives to identify concerns with the Unified Development Ordinance, the city council directed staff to prepare a series of amendments designed to make the city more business and developer friendly. These included easing restrictions on the color palette, signs, accessory structures, etc. Ultimately, 15 of these developer-friendly amendments were presented and approved by the council, including a mobile food vendor permit that allows 12 permitted food vendors to safely and successfully operate in the city.
Tomorrow’s blog will examine what’s been accomplished under the Improving Mobility initiative.Previous posts in the series: