One is Victoria, a little over two hours south of Rockdale. Two weeks ago, that city, county, school district, college, and its economic development entity worked together and landed a 500-job manufacturing plant from Caterpillar Inc.
Incentives for new businesses are a sticky issue. But Rockdale’s Municipal Development District board members know that offering nothing will bring nothing, so they are trying to constructively use sales-tax funds from the newly created development district to better the town’s prospects.
Read these words from D. Dale Fowler, president of the Victoria Economic Development Corp. (VEDC), published in The Victoria Advocate:
“In an ideal world, companies would simply find the best possible match for their project and locate there.
“But in the real world of economic development, there are no perfect sites that possess all the right attributes; there are always going to be tradeoffs. In the real world, there are always multiple locations that work equally well for a company and that is when a community’s willingness to invest in the project can make the difference.
“...we have an obligation to invest wisely for the benefit of Victoria’s taxpayers.
“Incentives will never make a bad site good, but they can make a good site the winner.”
Victoria is a larger town and has more to offer in incentives, but the local MDD can still offer basic assistance.
Lesson— Do what we can.
The VEDC had faced criticism for a business park that sat vacant for years before Caterpillar agreed to locate there.
Lesson— It takes time, so stay the course.
We’ll never know if, behind the scenes, there was bickering and personality conflicts with all those entities in Victoria working together. Lesson— Stay positive. Everyone is involved with business recruitment efforts.
In the end, Victoria did work things out and the payoff is a huge addition to its local jobs base.—K.E.C.