On April 22 Williamson County residents, business leaders and nonprofits can explore the area's challenges at the inaugural Supporting Williamson County's Growth and Changing Demographics Community Impact Summit.
The event will run from 8–11:30 a.m. at the United Heritage Center in Round Rock.
LeAnn Powers, chief professional officer for the United Way of Williamson County, said she hopes the debut summit will encourage local-level conversations about the implications of growth. United Way is one of the event's organizers, along with Georgetown Health Foundation and Community Impact Newspaper. Baylor Scott & White Health is the summit's title sponsor.
"This is our first time to do this," Powers said. "We hope for conversations happening at all levels of the community across city lines, across demographics, across businesses and civic leaders and elected officials to be proactive rather than reactive."
Powers said summit speakers will delve deeper into specific issues some Williamson County residents are facing such as hunger, financial instability, transportation and affordable housing.
Civic Analytics demographer Brian Kelsey will give a presentation about how the county's changing population affects the community's economic health. A panel of representatives from local civic organizations, schools and nonprofits including Hope Alliance, Hutto Has Heart and Leander ISD will speak about the needs of the populations they serve. The summit concludes with presentation from Elizabeth Kneebone, fellow at the Brookings Institution and co-author of Confronting Suburban Poverty in America. Kneebone will discuss how organizations can partner to improve outcomes, based on similar communities in the U.S.
Summit registration costs $25 per person and includes a continental breakfast. A full schedule and a link to register is on the United Way of Williamson County's website.
The summit will emphasize Williamson County's specific challenges apart from the rest of Central Texas, Powers said.
"Oftentimes the Round Rock and Austin numbers are kind of put together," she said. "We really want those demographics separated out and really just focus on the Williamson County demographic. There is that belief that we, Williamson County, will be larger than Travis County in 25 years. And so, what does that look like?"
Powers said attendees can expect to discover new facts about the county.
"I think people will be surprised about some of the information they're going to hear, about how Williamson County is going to look like in the not-too-distant future," Powers said. "We're hoping that we can be proactive rather than reactive to that influx of people coming our way."