Author: Ken Becker
The SEED report ………………….…………………………………….The “GOOD News!”
As our nation continues to rebound from the recent downturn in the economy, we try to examine what happened and what can we do to keep it from happening again. The financial crisis was more about the big box banks and their lending policies. Our hometown banks were and are doing fine. They are being punished, along w/ the consumers, w/ added regulations because of the big box banks and their failure to use sound business practices. Different areas of the country were also hit harder during the down turn due to their single focus business model. Some areas stayed w/ auto manufacturing because it was good and always will be …. or not. Even Texas communities fell into the trap of oil or bust …. and some went bust. The communities that did the best, or were hit the least were those communities that had a sound diversified business model. Those communities that could take an economic punch and still stand because of its diverse base were those that would still be standing as the turnaround occurred.
As we examine one of these communities, let us remember that you won’t see this in the national news, syndicated radio, or TV. This type of news, “GOOD News”, shows up in the local publications or radio stations. It must be “too good to be true” for the big markets. I’m here to say that it is “good” and “true”!
The founding fathers of Sweetwater/ Nolan County were either very smart or very lucky (I think a little of both) when they located our community here. The railroad was a major factor in its day, and still is, as transportation became a big deal. The location of Interstate 20 had influence on our growth and prosperity. Not only its location, but our communities understanding that we needed to bridge the gap between downtown Sweetwater and I-20 to take advantage of the opportunities Interstate traffic would bring. Think of communities that you have driven through that failed to take advantage of the increase traffic. Our location also was ideal with all the natural resources we have in the region (oil, gypsum, limestone, open lands, wind, and our people).
Sweetwater/Nolan County is very diverse in our economic base. We continue to look at ways to build on that diversity through business expansions, relocations, and recruitment. We work hard to create opportunities for local companies to grow and prosper. We build long lasting relationships and lend a helping hand to our neighbors. Here is a little bit of “GOOD News” that might lift your spirits:
· Sales tax collections have increased for 14 straight months
· The top 5 sales tax collections years have been 2011, 2010, 2008, 2009, and 2007
· Sweetwater Business Park is open for business (w/ water, sewer, 3-phase electricity, a road, and soon to be street lights)
· We are currently working w/ no less than “3” companies that are looking at Sweetwater, and our Business Park, to locate
· Our National unemployment has dropped to 7.7% w/ Texas dropping to 6.5% and Nolan County dropping to 5.3%
· Even though we have lost, according to the US Census, 500 people in Nolan County since 2000, we have more than 250 people working today than we had available for jobs in 2000. We also have 601 more people working today than in 2000.
· Our real estate market is rebounding w/over 20 properties under contract
· Construction projects continue to change the landscape all over town
Finish Mill at Buzzi Unicem USA
First Financial bank drive-through
Hendrick Medical Supply expansion
Oak Street Café relocation/expansion
Aroma – new restaurant in the downtown
Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) upgrades at SISD
RPMH patient rooms remodeled and upgraded
RPMH Doctor’s office complex construction
Nolan County Courthouse and jail
WASP Museum expansion
Continued Coliseum upgrades
Golden Chick – new restaurant on I-20
Love’s Truck Stop/Arby’s construction
Convenience store at the former FFB drive through location
Lamar Street “rehab” from Avenue B to I-20 (starting summer 2013)
As you can see, Sweetwater/ Nolan County are in great shape, in a great location. Our local companies continue to service the needs of our citizens. Employment opportunities continue to grow. Our city provides us with great services and a long term water supply. Our hospital provides more services locally than ever before. Educational and training opportunities are at our fingertips w/ SISD and TSTC West Texas.
As we look at all the pluses we have living in Sweetwater, we sometimes forget about some of the most important ones. Our daily commute is still in minutes. Our restaurant lines, even though longer, are still a short wait. We get to see our friends at work, in the grocery store, at the restaurant, in church or on the playing field. We experience, and raise our children and grandchildren, in a quality of life second to only what you can dream of.
As we say here at SEED, the “Sweetest place in Texas for business!”
See you next time!