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State of the Burg Sneak Peek

By Jim Mikula, President/CEO


We are a week away from the Chamber’s second State of the Burg Economic Summit. The speakers and panels have been preparing their presentations. I am enjoying getting a preview of their presentations in advance. What I have seen so far is impressive and some have surprises that piqued my curiosity.

 

For the Entrepreneur Panel, Tim Lehmberg, Gillespie County Economic Development Commission’s Executive Director, will share some statistics plus an overview of an entrepreneurial program that was contemplated in 2012. To give you a taste of some


of the ground we will cover at the summit, here are a few statistics on population and job growth in the County. Population grew in Gillespie County 9%, which is about 2,200 new residents, from 2013 to 2023. Of the 2,200 over one-third moved here in the years 2019 to 2023, essentially a “pandemic bump,” due the growth of virtual work.  Jobs here in the county grew 29% from 2013 to 2023. Excluding tourism, the sectors that grew most were manufacturing, construction, and professional & business services. While construction isn’t surprising the other two are unexpected.

 

Curiosity then led me to investigate our county’s economy. After checking several sources, I found that in 2022, the Gillespie County GDP (gross domestic product) was $1.3 billion. This is 18% higher than 2019. The economy had a burst of growth in 2021 over 2020, GDP went up 12%. While researching these numbers I wondered how we compared to other counties in the region during the same time frame:

 

·         Bexar County GDP grew 8%

·         Blanco County GDP grew 18%

·         Kendall County GDP grew 6%

·         Kerr County grew  GDP 7%

·         Llano County GDP grew 5%

·         Mason Counting GDP decreased 4%

·         Travis County GDP grew 22%

 

If you were wondering about Texas GDP, it was $2.4 trillion in 2022, which is second to California’s $3.6 trillion. Florida is third at $1.4 trillion.

 

The Housing Panel’s work is also linked to our local economy. Research shows that over 30% of workers in Fredericksburg reside outside Gillespie County, equating to approximately 3,500 workers. Using the EDC’s latest weekly average wage of $914.00 leads to the potential of $166 million in annual wages being used to make purchases, pay rent and other living expenses someplace other than our county. Even a reduction of 500 workers residing outside the county would keep nearly $24 million in wages in our local economy which equates to nearly two GDP points for Gillespie County.

 

The Entrepreneur Panel will introduce the Chamber’s new initiative designed to help people successfully launch new businesses. The first phase will be a course called “Start Up Studio” with the first class starting this September. In preparation for the second phase, which is where participants of the Start Up Studio will actually launch businesses, we are inviting local entrepreneurs to join the mentoring group called the Trial Balloon Society. Over 25 of these business people have already joined the group. The second phase is under development, but its intent will be to help our budding entrepreneurs get off to successful starts and to sustain their new ventures.

 

The housing initiative has a steering committee that includes all the large employers in town from FISD to the hospital to HEB and more. We will be capturing information of annual housing needs for these organizations to understand current and projected demand. The working committee includes representatives from construction companies, property management companies, legal advisors, and financial institutions to identify undiscovered opportunities for mid- and long-term housing. This includes unoccupied homes and short-term rental homes that are experiencing low occupancies. The panel will provide more details about this initiative.

 

The economic conditions, challenges and opportunities of our community affect us all, whether you are a business owner, employed by or hoping to be employed by a local organization or even a retired, local resident. Many of you might recall that these topics seem to be perennial concerns and ask what is different this time around. A fair and proper question. The difference this time is that we have a unified approach. The Chamber is leading initiatives with participation from local governments and the business community. This is your chamber’s mission in action:

 

We Champion our Business Community Through Collaboration, Information, and Service.

 

To purchase tickets for the State of the Burg Economic Summit, visit www.fredericksburg-texas.com and click on Events tab.

 

Statistic sources: Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis and Bureau of Economic Analysis US Department of Commerce

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