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State of the Burg

By Jim Mikula, President/CEO

The Chamber’s second, annual economic summit, “State of the Burg,” will be held on Wednesday, May 15, and we’ll explore Where We Are, Where We Are Going, and Issues that Matter. We will host two keynote speakers, two panels (Housing and Economic Impact of Entrepreneurs), and an update on the soon-to-be-announced tourism master plan. More information is available on our website


Our two keynote speakers will share information and insights that will help our business community to deepen our thinking about growth. Dr. Helen You, Associate Director of the Texas Demographic Center, will kick off the day with a wealth of information about population growth and demographic shifts for Texas, in general, and more specifically the Texas Hill Country. She has over two decades experience in demographic research with a focus on education, migration, health, and healthcare.


I shared with Dr. You my curiosity about projected population-demographic changes in Austin and San Antonio MSAs (metropolitan statistical areas) and how these changes will affect Gillespie County. She will speak to these concerns in her presentation.

Full disclosure: I geek out when it comes to demographics, so, I did some digging to prepare for the Summit (and in case I have the good fortune to have a conversation with Dr You). We probably all realize that the population of Gillespie County’s has grown, but I was surprised to learn our growth from 2010 to 2022 was 7.7 percent. That is less than half the rate of growth in Texas overall – 19% - during the same time period. The only year the population dropped here was 2019/2020—pre pandemic. The largest growth year was 2020/2021 at 2% in time when we were coming out of the pandemic.


Some other statistics that are key to understanding our community better include the change in specific age groups. The fastest growing age group in our county is 65+ years old, and this segment grew 25% from 2010 to 2022. The second fastest growing age group was 20-34 years old at 16%. Surprisingly, the third largest group at 17% is the age group 5-19 years old. The 35-49 age group is 15% and the 20-34 age group represents 14% of our population. The smallest age group is 0-4 years old at 4%. Overall, 50% of our population is 50 years old and older.


The closing keynote speaker will be Brian Heath, Owner/CEO of Heath Family Brands (Grape Creek Vineyards, Heath Sparkling Wines, Jenblossom Cellars, and Invention Vineyards). Brian purchased Grape Creek in 2006 which, at the time, produced 2,000 cases of wine per year. Heath Family Brands currently produces over 80,000 cases of wine per year. His journey to becoming a vintner is intriguing as he has a degree in mechanical engineering and worked in the financial services/advisor sector for 25 years before purchasing Grape Creek.


It is that journey and the evolution from Grape Creek Vineyards to Heath Family Brands that makes Brian an ideal and timely speaker for our summit. The current title for his presentation is “Cycle or Trend.” Understanding the distinction between a cycle and a trend plays into managing risk and determining when to grow or prepare for economic challenges. We are fortunate to have him share his expertise and perspective on predicting and managing economic growth in Gillespie County.


The “State of the Burg” tickets are available to everyone in the community - not just business owners or people in management positions. It’s great information for anyone who wants to know more about our economy or business community.


Note: demographic statistics were sourced from using census bureau data

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