A year-long study, paid for through a federal grant, has reached conclusions most savvy Rockdale and Milam County residents probably knew all along.
It’s great to be in the middle of some of the most vital, and fastest-growing, metropolitan areas of the United States, but geography alone isn’t going to make much of a dent in the post-Alcoa era here.
Talent, Innovation & Place (TIP) Strategies conducted the study for the Regional Economic Revitalization Planning Council (REV-UP), which is composed of seven counties, including Milam, attempting to deal with the aftermath of the Alcoa shutdown.
The study notes that the area’s greatest economic advantage is its proximity to the major, and bustling, metropolitan areas of Austin-Round Rock, Killeen-Temple and Bryan-College Station.
But, and it’s a big one, the study notes the metro areas have their own economic agendas which “would be difficult for the REV-UP process to influence.”
The study recommends the rural counties in the middle of the three thriving metro areas concentrate on better linking to those big city agendas.
Translation. The dog wags the tail; the tail doesn’t wag the dog.
There are some interesting, if not exactly new, insights in the report.
Health care is only going to get bigger in the next few years as baby boomers age. Rockdale already employs about 150-175 in that field, probably the area’s largest employer after industry, agriculture and education.
Energy, agriculture (if it ever rains again) and even tourism could play future roles.
REV-UP ultimately hopes to identify a single project, or cluster of projects where a single strategy could be pursued.
It’s certainly worth a try.—M.B.