Friday, December 19, 2008

TDA and community development

I recently spoke with city leaders and entrepreneurs from several north Texas cities at the Best Southwest Partnership quarterly luncheon in Duncanville. It was exciting to see the local officials’ enthusiasm and dedication to building opportunities for their communities and the Lone Star State. I visited with them about the Texas Department of Agriculture’s expanded role to serve all Texans and the need for communities to foster economic development.

In case you missed it, Lancaster Today highlighted my message to the group:

Ag commissioner shares thoughts on Texas community with BSW

Wednesday, December 17

Living in a metropolitan area, agriculture may not be a prime concern to the residents of Southwest Dallas County. But at the Best Southwest Partnership quarterly luncheon, Texas Commissioner of Agriculture Todd Staples communicated the importance of Texas agriculture and community development.

“If you are eating today or wearing clothes, you are involved in agriculture,” Staples said. “In 2007, for the first time ever, agriculture contributed more than $100 billion to Texas economy and 9.5 percent of the state's total gross product. People really don't think about agriculture until there is a problem.”

Contrary to popular belief, Staples said the Texas Department of Agriculture centers upon much more than agriculture.

“We focus on a variety of issues and concerns, working for the advancement and opportunity for all of us in Texas,” Staples said. “We act as the state's weights and measures to protect consumers and businesses.”

One of TDA's primary concentrations is child obesity and education, an area in which Texas has become a leader in recent years, according to Staples.

“Texas ranks sixth in the nation in child obesity,” Staples said. “Our priority is to turn the trend around. We are encouraging food service directors and administrators to helps us implement programs to teach the importance of healthy living.

TDA is partnering with schools and businesses to preserve Texas' quality education, which Staples said is not only vital to students, but the businesses as well.

“We must make certain we invest in our children. We have to communicate the importance of these programs for not only their health and well-being, but also the health for our economy. As a business community, you are the end users of our graduates.”

Education and a sense of community is what Staples said sets Texas apart. Understanding the unique qualities of Texas, TDA has initiated the GO Texan campaign, which promotes the products, cultures and communities of the state.

“We recently discovered that 96 percent of Texans prefer Texas products,” Staples said. “People around the globe are excited about Texas. We, as Texans, have an image that we can capitalize on.”

With the nation's economy in its current shape, Staples highlighted that Texas is better off than most financially.

“Unlike many states, such as Michigan and California, who are calling on the federal government to bail them out, Texans have planned ahead financially with low taxes and a high quality of life. We are a welcome mat for opportunity.”

Staples believes that Texas has all of the traits to become a retirement destination for seniors around the nation.

“Texas is the second most popular state for retirement, but we want to be No. 1,” Staples said Retirees contribute about $2.3 trillion in annual spending. I don't know about you, but I want that money coming into Texas' economy. Retirees are an industry.'

In March 2007, Duncanville became the fourth Go Texan Certified Retirement Community and Staples encouraged Cedar Hill, DeSoto and Lancaster communities to join their neighbor.

“It would be easy to say, ‘Well Duncanville already is a CRC. Do we really need another in this area?' As businesspeople, you are well aware of how a cluster economy can build off of one another. The best way to attract people to your area is to have several cities that have multiple things to offer them. As a community that is working together, you can cast a much bigger net.”

Staples applauded the work the BSW partnership was doing in its collective effort to create a community of which its residents and businessowners can be proud.

“We must maintain a spirit of cooperation that enables us to realize we are competitors, but also understand that if my neighbor does well that benefits me, too.”

1 comment:

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