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Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy - a Blueprint for Success


In the Heart of Texas, regional planners and community stakeholders collaborate to create a comprehensive economic development strategy - the CEDS. The document pulls together data, experience, and local input to identify trends, issues, and priorities for the region's economic development.


The Heart of Texas Region is heavily agricultural, with a strong industrial and commercial center in the Waco MSA and smaller industrial and commercial centers in Hillsboro and Mexia. Access to health care is generally good throughout the region, with two major health centers in McLennan County and rural health centers in each of the other counties. Economically the region is generally stable; the unemployment rate is slightly lower than the state average, as are wages. There is a ready work force with relatively low overall skill level, but robust workforce training providers - including community colleges, a TSTC campus, Workforce Solutions of the Heart of Texas, and nonprofit and private providers - exist who can quickly deliver specialized training. There is a need for jobs in the rural counties and a need for jobs - particularly mid-skill-level jobs - in McLennan County.


The Heart of Texas Economic Development District's strategy for regional economic development hinges on five strategic initiatives:

•  Increase Innovation and Entrepreneurship

•  Brand and Market the Region

•  Increase Businesses' Access to Capital

•  Increase Economic Development Readiness among Local Jurisdictions

•  Foster Key Economic Development Catalyst Projects


These initiatives are targeted to increasing the fertility of the region's economic development environment, so that new businesses are more likely to take root; existing businesses are more likely to thrive, expand, and multiply; and transplant businesses are more likely to locate and prosper here.


















Develop Health Care sector       

• Health Care worker training in Bosque and Falls Counties

• Health Care workforce in McLennan County and Limestone County

• Health Care facilities in Freestone County and Bosque County


Develop Aerospace and Avionics sectors

• Avionics building and expanded training programs at TSTC

• Air traffic control training at TSTC

• Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative

• Composite materials research and testing


Develop energy alternatives

• Coal-to-liquid using lignite coal

• Ethanol production in rural locations

• Lignite gasification at Luminant


Develop workforce

• Waco MSA

• Attract/retain young professionals

• investment in downtown

• green community

• arts and cultural amenities

• Increase use of training programs

• Develop Education Alliance birth-to-secondary training

• Rural areas

• Employ distance learning

• Partner with educational entities to hold satellite training

• Strengthen capacity of local EDCs to design individual programs


Encourage development of key transportation routes

• High-speed rail

• 1-35

• 1-45


Develop sense of place

• Bosque County: retirement community and artist destination

• Falls County: redevelopment and improved housing

• Hill County: historic downtowns and amenities

• Limestone County: improved housing and amenities

• Freestone County: improved housing, beautification, and amenities

• McLennan County: green, urban/rural  mix of amenities


Develop tourism opportunities

• Lakes I rivers (Region)

• Historic downtowns I attractions (Region)

• "Gateway to Hill Country" (Bosque)


Attract/retain manufacturing jobs

• Engage in targeted recruitment activities on behalf of the region and attract viable leads

• Facilitate the recruitment activities of the region's communities through training, best-practice dissemination, and targeted support

• Particularly target key clusters of advanced tech/manufacturing, aerospace, and energy

• Target advanced manufacturing in McLennan County and Hill County, basic manufacturing in Falls County, and most manufacturing in Bosque, Limestone, and Freestone Counties


Facilitate the growth and expansion of existing businesses and industries in the region

• Engage in regular business retention activities in each of the region's six counties

• Facilitate the retention activities of the region's communities through training, best-practice dissemination, and targeted support

• Particularly target key clusters of advanced tech/manufacturing,  aerospace, and energy


Develop Agribusiness Cluster

• Gather information about agribusiness development

• Educate the Region's communities regarding agribusiness industry and its support needs

• Assist Region in responding to leads from agribusiness industry

CEDS Goals and Objectives -- Defining Regional Expectations