If recent statements are any indication, the Marble Falls Economic Development Corp. is starting to pursue what should be its true goal, which is to attract and retain businesses.
For the past two years or so, the EDC has literally floundered as it poured money into higher education, pursued a cooking school that had trouble filling up, inked a contract with an auto dealer that has yet to produce a line of cars and ran into cost increases on a vocational-technical training center that remains empty of students.
The EDC board hired Christian Fletcher as the new executive director, luring him away from the Marble Falls/Lake LBJ Chamber of Commerce. And progressive new leadership sits on the EDC board itself.
Fletcher, among others, has started talking about creating a strategic business plan for the EDC that would help strengthen the business climate in Marble Falls, promoting and retaining commerce and jobs.
The plan also should focus on boosting tourism and helping make Marble Falls a true destination city.
It might take a couple of months to come together.
The EDC plan should be guided by a steady vision. For far too long, the nonprofit organization has run willy-nilly to this or that project, which is an approach that shows little consistency.
That strategy has not helped the business community.
The economic climate remains stagnant. Sales taxes have fluctuated, often precipitously dropping.
Mayor George Russell is even sounding a warning.
“We are right on the cusp of going backwards if we don’t get everything right,” he recently said.
There is an immediate need to create new jobs and boost city sales tax revenue, which in the past few months has virtually flatlined.
Bold steps are needed. One of the EDC’s mandates is to attract new businesses to the city.
Maybe now is the time to begin a dialogue about tax breaks or at least tax abatements to new companies that want to move here, so long as they agree to create jobs, hire local services whenever possible and remain in Marble Falls.
In the meantime, the EDC also needs to open discussions with local business leaders about economic goals and new projects.
The input of those business leaders is needed. Their voices have to be heard. And much of what they say should be a factor in this new plan.
Everyone needs to join forces if they want to move ahead as a unified and progressive economic force.
Let’s hope conversations about the strategic plan are more than just talk.
The residents of Marble Falls deserve something other than lip service to a strategy that should have been carried out years ago as the national recession deepened, affecting even the beautiful river city on the Colorado.