Ag, healthcare

Survey finds surprises in post Alcoa era for Milam County

When a multi-county economic strategy planning group nicknamed “Rev-Up” reports on a recent federally-funded survey Monday in the Patterson Center, there will be a few surprises in the data.

Rev-Up is the Regional Economic Revitalization and Utilization Planning Council—hooray for acronyms—and it’s been studying the strengths and weaknesses of seven counties, including Milam, in the post-Alcoa era.

There are several surprises in the summary’s ranking of the top five “job sectors” in each county.

Had the survey been taken five years ago, Alcoa with its 1,100 jobs, would have pushed “industrial” firmly into first place.

But it wasn’t. Milam County’s No. 1 job sector is again “agriculture,” exactly what it was from the time of the Texas Republic until Alcoa construction cranked up in 1951.

Agriculture was the top job sector in four of the seven counties, Milam, Burleson, Lee and Robertson. Bell’s (Fort Hood) was military, Brazos was state government, which includes Texas A&M and Williamson’s was retail sales.

Since Williamson County has a Home Depot every 3-1/2 miles that’s not surprising.

What might be surprising is Milam’s job sectors 2-5 which are, in order, local government, construction, retail and healthcare.

Yes, healthcare is the fifth largest employment sector in Milam County and when you think about it, that makes sense.

Rockdale has a hospital, three clinics, a dialysis center and lots of smaller ancillary services. Cameron has a hospital, two clinics, et cetera. Those employ lots of people.

For whatever it’s worth, the only two sectors which show up in the top five lists of all seven counties are retail and local government.

What does it all mean? Our county has fundamentally changed in the past three years. We suspect that conclusion won’t surprise anyone.—M.B.

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2011-03-24 digital edition

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