Investing in the Place Where Freedom Grows

Published by: Dr. Brad Buckley & Bill Kliewer | Published on: 08 Mar, 2018
Investing in the Place Where Freedom Grows

Written by: Dr. Brad Buckley, 14 Forward General Co-Chair, Killeen Veterinary Clinic & Bill Kliewer 14 Forward General Co-Chair, Bigham Kliewer Chapman & Watts
Published in the Greater Killeen Business Quarterly 2017 Annual Report & Economic Outlook Guide

A 2018-2022 Economic Development Initiative of the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce

Earlier this fall, civic and business leaders (both current and former) from the City of Killeen, the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce (GKCC), and the Killeen Economic Development Corporation (KEDC) gathered together in the middle of an empty field on the corner of Roy J. Smith drive to celebrate a significant announcement for the region - the location of a new manufacturing company in the Killeen Industrial Park. This group served as host to a delegation of Japanese business leaders from Mitsubishi Gas and Chemical Company (MGC) to officially break ground on their new 22,000 ft2 $30 million chemical facility. What an opportunity for this community!

The KEDC and its leaders have laid the framework for a new industrial cluster to support Austin’s tech industry, recruited a multinational business, and exhibited Killeen’s ability to compete on a national scale for new economic development projects.

Now, this isn’t the first time the KEDC has recruited a major industry, nor is it the largest, but MGC’s decision to build their second plant in the United States in the City of Killeen comes at a pivotal time:

  • A time where our community has experienced unprecedented population growth, despite a decline in its largest economic asset (Fort Hood);
  • A time where our local higher education institutions - both new and old - have gained recognition on a national stage; and
  • A time where decades of hard work have come to fruition via the designation of a new interstate with far-reaching economic and military value implications.
Greater Killeen, Fort Hood, Bell County, and Central Texas are primed and ready to move forward. Now is the time to aggressively pursue new economic development opportunities for our region, leverage our community’s assets, bridge its gaps, and fortify its institutions. It is for these reasons, and many more, that we are pleased to introduce you to 14 Forward, a 2018-2022 strategic economic development initiative of the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce.

14 Forward represents a new collaborative, proactive, and private sector driven approach to regional economic development. Leaders of the GKCC and its strategic partners have established 3 goals for 14 Forward designed to address regional challenges and capitalize on strengths and opportunities to drive economic and community growth.

Goal 1: Grow business and investment

Action: The Chamber will collaborate with regional partners/ stakeholders and focus on programs that will lead to the creation of competitive wage jobs in the service, manufacturing and retail sectors, including jobs that will benefit low-to-moderate income individuals.

  • Conduct an aggressive business recruitment program designed to create a total of 2,275 jobs in the following industrial clusters over the next five years: Defense, Information Technologies, Transportation and Logistics, and Business Services.
  • Capitalize on the Economic Development potential of Texas A&M University-Central Texas by:
    • Aligning university research with regional economic development priorities.
    • Incubating emerging technologies in the fields of alternative energy, cybersecurity, and healthcare.
    • Developing a research park on the TAMUCT campus to foster emerging industry development and promote defense industry clusters.
  • Expand the Chamber’s ability to conduct research, collect, analyze, and disseminate data.
Goal 2: Promote Fort Hood

Action: GKCC and the Heart of Texas Defense Alliance (HOTDA), acting in close partnership, will work to promote Fort Hood while capitalizing on it as an economic and community asset. The Chamber will strengthen its dedication to the region’s economic engine (Fort Hood) by investing in an additional staff member for the Heart of Texas Defense Alliance. This individual will provide support to the Executive Director in his implementation of HOTDA’s existing strategies and will aide in the implementation of a number of new strategies designed to (1) strengthen regional collaboration, (2) protect and grow Fort Hood’s military value, and (3) proactively prepare for the execution of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) activities.

  • Develop strategic “closed” business cases designed to enhance the military and economic value of Fort Hood through the attraction and expansion of new and existing Department of Defense (DoD) missions.
  • Promote Public-Public and Public-Private Partnerships by serving as a convener and catalyst for organizations such as the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce’s Defense Contractors Council and the Fort Hood Regional Health Planning Organization.
  • Secure funding from the Office of Economic Adjustment, Office of Economic Development and other state or federal agencies for programs and projects that are designed to strengthen the military value and economic impact of Fort Hood, and to prepare the region for the economic consequences of a future BRAC round.
Goal 3: Strengthen Infrastructure to improve quality of place

Action: The Chamber will work to upgrade local infrastructure in order to improve access to current and emerging technology for businesses and residents/ families and to strengthen the region’s competitive advantage in the new information-based economy.

  • Increase bandwidth (internet speed) averages in the community to a gigabyte for commercial entities and 500 Mbps for residential entities by:
    • Mapping existing internet infrastructure in the region and identifying gaps;
    • Identifying cost-effective solutions and funding sources to improve existing and install new internet infrastructure; and
    • Recruiting new internet service providers to the community.
  • Continuing to support the Chamber’s role as the fiscal agent of the Gulf Coast Strategic Highway Coalition - a regional organization charged with leading expansion of Interstate 14 – and mentor communities within the corridor to ensure their ability to promptly and efficiently secure the official interstate designation.
Earlier this summer - after completing a funding feasibility study to test to community’s support for this new approach to collaborative economic development - the Chamber board voted to move forward with a campaign to fund 14 Forward. As the General Co-Chairs of this business community-driven initiative, we are pleased to report that the 14 Forward Campaign has experienced remarkable progress to date, but our task is not complete. To achieve success, all businesses and stakeholders with an interest in the region’s prosperity must step forward, engage in this initiative, and exercise financial leadership by investing in it.