The Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce provided an update on July 11 to the New Braunfels City Council on the 2023-2027 Economic Development Strategic Plan, highlighting the extreme population growth in the area and its influence on the local economy.
According to Jonathan Packer, president and CEO of GNBCC, the city saw more population growth in 2014-2019 than the San Antonio and Austin metroplexes.
The planning process for the Economic Development Strategic Plan began in 2022 with a Community Assessment that examined the city’s growth and combined input and research to help identify potential threats and opportunities. A survey was completed by over 300 business owners, interviews were conducted with nonprofit organizations, and meetings were held with an advisory team focused on economic development, according to the presentation.
Packer said the chamber tried to take a balanced approach to develop the strategic plan. Community pride, public safety, restaurants and retail were among the options rated highly in the Community Assessment Survey results. Housing options, walking and bicycling infrastructure and public transportation received lower ratings from those who participated in the survey.
“[We] really start first with that community vision that everyone loves so much, but to have a clear economic vision to add jobs that match the skill sets of our residents,” he said. “And then to have a very realistic vision on the development side, that land is not infinite.”
The GNBCC determined six strategic priorities based on the assessment results, including attracting quality jobs in target industries by investing in existing local companies and targeting growth in specific industries.
GNBCC will also focus on creating competitive office and industrial spaces to prevent a lack of available workspace in New Braunfels. By identifying niche opportunities in the city, the chamber plans to support startup businesses.
The economic development plan will also work to attract new people to the workforce by investing in housing and advancing higher education opportunities for residents.
“We're a destination and a community of choice where people want to be. This [data] blew me away,” said Packer. “From 2014 to 2019, the percentage of our population with a bachelor's degree or higher increased by 11.5%.”
According to the presentation, 57% of residents who participated in the Community Assessment Survey rated public transportation as very poor or below average. The economic development plan will work towards improving mobility and transportation options by advocating for investments in necessary transportation infrastructure.
The development of property that aligns with existing land use plans will be prioritized by the chamber and a new Downtown Master Plan will be developed to guide the growth in New Braunfels.
The economic development plan will be implemented from 2023 to 2027, with a mid-course development taking place in 2025. In 2027, economic planning for the next five years will take place.
A full recording of the July 11 New Braunfels City Council meeting and the 2023-2027 Economic Development Strategic Plan can be found on the city's website.