TEXAS VIEW: Economic development encompasses three major areas


Economic development is one of those catchphrases often bandied about by business and political leaders that implies a variety of different things to different people without providing any specific guidelines.

In general, economic development focuses on the recruitment of business operations to a region, assisting in the expansion or retention of business operations within a region, or assisting in the startup of new businesses within a region. However, it also can apply to much more: for example, improvements in a variety of indicators such as literacy, life expectancy and poverty rates.

In its broadest sense, economic development encompasses three major areas:

1) Policies that governments undertake to meet broad economic objectives such as price stability, high employment, expanded tax base and sustainable growth.

2) Policies and programs to provide infrastructure and services, such as highways, parks, affordable housing, crime prevention, and educational programs and projects.

3) Policies and programs explicitly directed at job creation and retention through specific efforts in business finance, marketing, neighborhood development, small business startup and development, business retention and expansion, technology transfer, workforce training and real estate development.

The recent or planned expansions at American eChem Inc., LufTex Gears, Atkinson Candy Co. and Lockheed Martin are all reflective of economic development in the traditional sense. That also applies to the purchase of Angelina Hardwood by Overseas Hardwood Company, which plans to move from its current location on Wilson Street to a building on the corner of Angelina and Pershing streets behind the fence on Trout Street.

In addition, Align Midstream Partners II has announced that it is partnering with BP America Production Company to commission a new gas gathering and treatment facility in Angelina County.

And Lufkin’s decision to seek a foreign-trade zone designation will elevate the city’s position as a regional magnet for international trade development.

But using that broad, generic definition as a guideline, it’s not a stretch to imagine that almost every action taken by every resident in our cities and county helps promote the economic development of our community.

This month, for example, the Angelina County Fair, Angelina Benefit Rodeo, SpringFest, Main Street Market Days and Mudbugs and Mudflaps attracted thousands of people to Lufkin and Diboll to shop, eat and explore. These community events, and all the others like them, are crucial to a community’s vitality because they also help build the economy.

We’ve said it before, and we will say it again: Economic development is “a matter of creating jobs and expanding the tax base, which not only supports the necessities (fire and police, water, sewer and schools), but bolsters the quality of life (the zoo, the museums, movie theaters, restaurants, parks and youth programs).”