By Andy Sevilla.
The group tasked with attracting business and investment to Hays County is taking its message to Times Square.
The Greater San Marcos Partnership – a public-private partnership focused on job creation and increased investment in Hays and Caldwell counties – is on a global marketing and business recruitment campaign, and they’re asking prospective interests to ‘Come Grow With Us.’
The partnership is running a 15-second video promoting Hays and Caldwell counties every hour for 18 hours per day on the CBS Spectacular – a 520-foot ‘Jumbotron’ screen – in New York City’s Times Square. The group estimates the video will have an audience of more than 185 million during its 106-day run.
“Our region has an incredibly compelling story to tell on a large stage, and we want to share it with the world,” GSMP President Adriana Cruz said. “And we are always looking for innovative ways to stand out. I’d have to say people are taking notice.”
The video features images of the greater San Marcos region, including Texas State, the San Marcos River and Spring Lake. The 15-second visual sales pitch also touts the area’s location, quality of life and top rankings, the partnership said.
As the video closes, the partnership strategically leaves its audience with the parting words, ‘Come Grow With Us.’
Hays County has seen explosive growth in the past decade, and state demographers forecasted a continued influx of new residents. San Marcos is ranked as the fastest growing U.S. city with a population of 50,000 or more.
The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization identified a future population of more than 600,000 in Hays County by 2040. The U.S. Census estimated the county’s population at 176,000 for 2013.
Growing into the future
The partnership will soon begin deliberations with industry experts identifying economic development strategies to be implemented to market the region through 2020.
Atlanta-based Market Street Services, who served the partnership to develop its present five-year plan set to expire in September 2015, will help with a competitive assessment, targeted business analysis and marketing review to create the next economic development strategy.
Once that strategy is finalized, an implementation plan will be put in place, Cruz said.
Part of that economic development strategy includes the addition of the Austin Community College campus in Kyle, Texas State becoming an emerging research institution and STAR Park, the university’s research park geared toward fostering commercialization and entrepreneurship.
“There have been some significant changes and improvements to our regional economy that have not been taken into account in the strategy that we’re operating under,” Cruz said.
But the seven-month strategy development process will cost $140,000, plus an estimated $15,000 in expenses, Cruz said, a cost that will dip into the partnership’s $1.1 million budget.
“It’s expensive, but we feel it’s important,” she said.
Kyle council members last week upped their annual contribution to the partnership from $1,000 to $5,000, though the group was seeking $10,000 given the city’s size.
Kyle Finance Director Perwez Moheet said the additional money would come from the general fund and council members would need to pass a budget amendment. That line item would be increased to its $5,000 amount in future budgets.
Kyle Economic Development Director Diana Blank said the partnership is a benefit to the city, specifically the business retention and expansion aspect.
“We don’t have the staff or resources to really focus on that effort like we would really like to,” Blank said.
With the increased contribution, Kyle will now have monthly meetings with the partnership to learn of potential prospects and follow up on leads.
Previously, Kyle — and any other local investors contributing less than $5,000 — was only privy to quarterly meetings the partnership put on to keep investors abreast of the groups action and spending.
In its mission, the partnership advocates increased investment in its two-county region, job creation, diversifying the regional economy and creating economic opportunity.
“We’re completely location agnostic,” Cruz said. “We work with all the communities (in the two-county area)… for us, a win for one is a win for all.”