Communities throughout the Heart of Texas region were experiencing common but serious challenges: slow or flat growth, fewer grant dollars, rising costs and increased complexity of water/sewer and other systems. County governments were also concerned about these issues, both in the towns and also the unincorporated areas and rural water supply systems.
The common issues and need to seek solutions brought conversations at the regional level with the Heart of Texas Council of Governments. Some needs were immediate and practical, such as improved knowledge and management of water and sewer systems. Other concerns were technical and required research, and still others were subjective and cultural, like how to engage more folks in the community.
In 2011 the region began looking for answers: communities started to put together the Efficient Towns & Counties Co-op, requested a planning grant, and pledged local dollars to kick off the project. The next year the group landed the grant and staffed the effort primarily using regional staff and contractors supplemented by technical experts. Compared to a turn-key, consultant-driven approach, this method cost less, strengthened local resources that could be tapped again over time, and leveraged deep familiarity with the region and its people. All the knowledge and tools secured by the grant will remain in the region so the cities and counties can build on them over time.
For more information about the Heart of Texas Efficient Towns & Counties project, please contact Dorthy Jackson at 254-292-1874 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.