Buda updates its strategic plan

Information technology and business services are two primary industries Buda plans to target over the next decade as part of an update to the city’s Economic Strategic Plan.

Ann Miller, Buda Economic Development Corporation executive director, said plans to update came after the city successfully completed 40 out of 42 action items in the 2013 version of the plan. Buda city leaders unanimously approved the update in mid-February.

“Our 2013 plan was supposed to be a 10-year plan and we were a little more successful than expected,” Miller said. “The updated plan is supposed to last 10 years, but it could be done in fewer, depending on how things move forward.”

The update was conducted by TIP Strategies, an Austin based firm, which Miller said did “extensive research” utilizing in-house and external databases. Miller said TIP also met with stakeholders and completed an online community survey to obtain resident input.

Buda’s new plan outlines five primary goals that include business and real estate development, as well as small business growth and organizational alignment. The plan also outlines strategies and actions that can be taken to try to accomplish the more than 130 goals over the next 10 or so years.

Tom Stellman, CEO of TIP Strategies, said in January that development of the plan is based on Buda being a “dynamic business center” between Austin and San Antonio. Stellman said Buda currently has a “solid” cost of living, as well as a sound housing market and school district.

While Buda’s housing market is skewed toward single-family homes, the city is attempting to diversify its stock.  Buda lacks executive level homes, but several planned developments on the west side of town could offer options in the future.

“Some people work from home and are younger professionals that don’t want a large single-family house,” Miller said. “They might look more toward a townhome or a condo.”

An additional challenge is recruiting and retaining workers to the area, as well as discouraging residents from commuting to work, Stellman said. According to statistics in the plan, roughly 4,600 Buda residents commute to work.

Miller said the city aims to try to match the jobs of existing residents with the types of employers they plan to recruit.

Information technology is one area of focus in the plan. Miller said building Class-A office space could help to attract federal or state offices, as well as commercial clients, to set up in town.

A high volume of residents in Buda work at state offices in Austin, Miller said.

Other avenues include the medical industry, retail, light industrial and hospitality.

The plan also dictates what avenues can be taken across different districts around town. The goal was to ensure a balance between improving development and maintain the small town charm city leaders hope to keep.

“I think there’s ability to keep a small town feel as long as we keep the strategic plan areas in place,” Miller said.

Buda’s new plan also addresses transportation around town and what will need to happen to help spur development. Miller said completion of State Highway 45 Southwest could have a key impact on Buda’s economic future.

While the new road might bring more traffic, the properties near the new highway could be open to retail, medical or perhaps a corporate campus of some kind.

“We’re trying to think long-range,” Miller said. “While we were successful with the 2013 plan, there are a lot of long-term action items that will take years to completely develop.”

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