News Column

County funds KEDC for another year

July 16, 2014

By Mark J. Armstrong, Kerrville Daily Times, Texas

July 16--Despite some concerns raised about priorities and communication, Kerr County will continue to fund the Kerrville Economic Improvement Corporation for another year.

"I support funding this year, although I've said I've had concerns, but as far as I'm concerned, y'all are on probation," said Commissioner Jonathan Letz.

Commissioners voted Monday to approve $16,250 in funding for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1. The Kerrville Economic Development Corporation receives funding from the city, the county and the Kerrville Public Utility Board, but the bulk of its budget is funded through a grant from the Kerrville Economic Improvement Corporation. KEDC's total budget is about $242,000.

Commissioners began questioning the role of the KEDC in economic development outside the city after the recent proposal for tax incentives to help build a retail shopping center at Interstate 10 and Sidney Baker Street were rejected. Letz was specifically critical of the KEDC's role because the proposed shopping center was in his precinct, but he was never informed about the prospect.

Jonas Titas, the executive director of the KEDC, has said that the focus of the organization is attracting what he called primary employers, which he defined as businesses that primarily sell products or services outside the community. Markets the KEDC focuses on include aviation, energy, light manufacturing and craft agriculture.

"We want to create an environment where we are growing the economy," Titas said.

However, Letz said not offering incentives to help draw retail to the community is one of his problems with the KEDC. He referenced what is termed "retail leakage," or local residents spending their disposable income outside the community.

"Because we don't attract those retailers, they're not here, and people go to Boerne and San Antonio to spend their money," Letz said.

Letz said he felt like the county needed to be more involved in the economic development effort in the future. He also repeated a concern previously raised by commissioners about the makeup of the KEDC board.

The board consists of representatives from the county, city, KPUB, Kerrville Independent School District, convention and visitors bureau, chamber of commerce and business community. Because most of those represented organizations are centered in the city, commissioners have said they feel the KEDC is more focused on the city rather than the entire county.

Titas has said the organization works to draw business development to the entire community, including outside the city limits, and they will work with retail development.

"We are open for business and work with retail all that we can," Titas said.


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Source: Kerrville Daily Times (TX)

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