Three Hays County Cities Discuss Economic Development, Business Opportunity With ULI Panel

Staff Reports

On Wednesday, June 10, the Urban Land Institute Austin (ULI) held three-panel discussion with regional representatives to discuss Economic Development and Business opportunities.

The panels included representatives from the City of Austin, City of Dripping Springs, City of Cedar Park, City of Georgetown, City of Kyle, City of Manor, the City of Pflugerville, Round Rock Chamber of Commerce and City of San Marcos.

Representatives discussed their city’s long-term goals and initiatives, projects, and initiatives going on and obstacles their cities are facing when it comes to economic development.

Ginger Faught, Deputy City Administrator of Dripping Springs, said Dripping Springs is working on issues regarding transportation, wastewater utility expansion, reuse infrastructure, and more.

“We have several large projects that we’re working on in our downtown Mercer Historic District and providing housing options for residents in the area,” Faught said. “We are in the middle of doing a massive overhaul of our master transportation plan.”

Diana Torres, City of Kyle Director of Economic Development said the city’s goal is to become a full-service community by providing jobs within the city limits for their residents.

“Kyle has been a tremendous growth community around the Austin region,” Torres said. “Over the past decade our growth rate has been 749%, so in 2005 our population was 9,000 people. We are approaching 52,000 today.”

Torres said the city’s goal is to match the 80% of the city’s population, who leave town to go to work, with jobs.

The City of Kyle is currently working on infrastructure projects from road bond initiative, the extension of the city’s water and wastewater projects to open up South Kyle to growth and development.

“I think for us in Dripping Springs, we are very unique in that we’re a small city,” Faught said. “Our city limits are very tiny; we think our estimates for a population is around 3,300, but we’ve got this massive extraterritorial jurisdiction where certain development ordinances and regulations apply, and in that area, we estimate it’s around 35,000 to 40,000 people.”

Scott Hardwick San Marcos Economic and Development City Manager said one of the city’s goals is to capitalize and enhance downtown, and part of that requires looking at transportation, access to the river from downtown, and increasing the density of residential non-student housing.

“We really want to focus on getting more of a demographic that has more disposable income and focus on office space for our downtown area where we can recruit professional employers,” Hardwick said, “And have the experience of live, work and entertain in our downtown area.”

Hardwick said the city aims to also diversify its tax base as COVID-19 highlighted how dependent on sales tax the city is.

According to Hardwick, the city is looking at aspects of ULI’s ‘Activating the San Marcos Riverfront’ study to implement to help with the river’s cohesion with downtown and more to plan for the downtown area.

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