A thriving local economy, unstoppable population growth and its central location on the I-35 corridor have made New Braunfels an attractive destination for higher education facilities to invest in, said Jonathan Packer, president and CEO of the Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce.

The specifics

Within New Braunfels city limits, there are three institutions that offer various programs, degrees and certifications, including Howard Payne University, Alamo Colleges-Northeast Lakeview College and most recently Texas State Technical College.

Packer said having higher education options in a community is essential to positive economic growth.

“There's a strong tie between the availability of education and the ability to have jobs and a strong economy [so] that people can be successful,” Packer said. “Fundamentally, you cannot have economic development without strong higher education [opportunities].”

A closer look

Due to the approval of House Bill 4997, Texas State Technical College has begun enrollment for courses in New Braunfels. Before the bill was passed in the 88th legislative session, service-area jurisdiction rules prevented TSTC from providing programming without the established district community college first declining to serve as the educational provider.

HB 4997 gives TSTC the ability to bring new programs to Comal and Guadalupe counties without going through the process of offering right of refusal each time. The campus is anticipated to have an overall cost of $268 million once completed.

“This region is fast-growing and contains an enviable concentration of industrial employers who employ skilled Texans in great-paying jobs,” TSTC Chancellor and CEO Mike Reeser said. “Texans who seek such positions will find TSTC as a fast and affordable pathway toward their occupational goal.”

Funding for the college is based on student employment outcomes, with TSTC acting as a placement agency with the salary of the graduate determining the commission of the college, according to a GNBCC presentation given in July.

Packer said he would like to see residents use trade courses as a pathway to find a career. TSTC has begun offering courses this fall through its Federation of Advanced Manufacturing Education, which provides students with an associate degree in advanced manufacturing while being employed by local manufacturing executives.

“There is such a need for technical trade training in this region that even with a significant investment of this size, there’s still going to be an unmet need,” Packer said.

Diving in deeper

Kathleen Labus, director of marketing and strategic communications for Alamo Colleges-Northeast Lakeview College, said 37% of its students reside outside of where the college is based in Bexar County, so moving to New Braunfels in April this year “seemed like the perfect fit.”

“Located in one of the fastest-growing areas in the state, NLC understands the region’s growing economic and workforce demands, and we are committed to ensuring the communities that we serve receive high-quality education and the training necessary to meet employer demands,” Labus said.

Labus said NLC officials are in discussion about what other programs would be beneficial to serve the community.

“We are currently working with local leaders to discuss program offerings that will be offered at the New Braunfels site,” Labus said. “This includes expanding core academic course offerings and providing short-term workforce training.”