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Economic Development 101- improve economic well-being
As Executive Director of the Childress Municipal Development District I will have a monthly column on federal, state and local economic development issues impacting Childress. The main goal of economic development is improving the economic well being of a community through efforts that entail job creation, job retention, tax base enhancements and quality of life. Many years ago, I took a college course focusing on why towns were created in a certain location and why future residents came to those towns or stayed in those towns. Early rural communities had a transportation link such as rivers, rail, wagon trail or a cattle drive trail. As the industrial revolution took hold, towns and manufacturing facilities were built near a raw material source. When residents began driving and traveling the country tourist stops developed along all the US highways. Regional farming and ranching hubs were created to market crops and livestock. Childress has benefited from many of these historical trends.
The questions I am asked most often are: When can we get a Chili’s, Cracker Barrel, etc. and why can’t we get more rodeos and music concerts? Background-The Childress signs on 287 and 83 say our population per the 2010 Census is 6,105. What our signs don’t say is 1,326 resided in our gated community called the T.L. Roach prison and 34 resided in the Childress county jail. Therefore, Childress true population in 2010 was 4,745. Our population will drop further if the 2020 Census forms aren’t accurately completed. Our business draw-within a 45 minute drive, includes neighboring counties Hardeman 4,139; Foard 1,336; Cottle 1,505; Motley 1,210; Hall 3,353; Donley 3,677; Collingsworth 3,057; Harmon Co OK 2,922 and Childress, less the prison 5,681 for a total area population of 26,880.
Why is this important? The Governor’s office has created a robust business development program to provide out of state businesses incentives to consider Texas. Childress MDD is a member of the High Ground of Texas, a 64 county regional economic development group for the panhandle and west Texas as well as the Panhandle Regional Planning Council economic development advisory board. These organizations in addition to our own recruiting efforts provide a steady stream of leads to pitch Childress as a great place to bring your business and invest. Post pandemic, high speed internet and quality of life issues are becoming a much bigger selling point for rural communities especially Childress.
As to the restaurant question, the cost to purchase land, build a recognizable building, install equipment and prepare for opening day requires an average investment of $1 million. To justify the investment they require a local college age workforce, 30,000 customers within a 45 minute drive, above average salaries in the area so people can dine out 3-4 times per week, inexpensive land or a large cash incentive ($100,000+) to be considered. What about our 24,000 vehicles a day traveling through Childress. Site selection people only give you credit for a fraction of the auto traffic and none of the trucks.
As to events, rodeo promotors require a fee of $25,000 plus to bring their event to your facility. From a business perspective, stall rentals, motel tax from room rentals and sales tax from food sales do not justify paying a fee to bring events to Childress. This year the Mashburn event center has started producing our own rodeos netting $5,000 to 8,000 profit for each event plus helping the local motels and restaurants. Music events are similar. You can sell approximately 275 tickets at $25 or $6,875 total revenue. After promotional costs and paying the band $5,000+ these events don’t work financially. With social distancing don’t expect music events any time soon.
I can be reached at [email protected] or at 940-937-8629