Q&A with Ben White, Cedar Park economic development director

Ben White is the economic development director for the city of Cedar Park.

Ben White is the economic development director for the city of Cedar Park.

After serving in economic development and project management roles in Round Rock, Rowlett and Greenville, Ben White is now working for the city of Cedar Park, working on advancing the city’s employment opportunities. White stepped in after the former economic development director, Phil Brewer, retired in May 2018. Just before taking on his role in Cedar Park, White served as the vice president of economic development for the Round Rock Chamber for eight years. He also worked previously as the director of economic development for the city of Rowlett and as a projects manager and executive director for the Greenville board of development, according to the city of Cedar Park. He began serving as the economic development director for Cedar Park on Oct. 15.

What are your responsibilities as the economic development director?
The way I view it is my job is to diversify the tax base, create good jobs and bring in high capital investment. Cities are always looking [at] how to build quality of life for their citizens, and I believe that quality of life starts with a quality job. So our responsibility is to help bring in those quality jobs, so therefore, the quality of life continues on.

Given your previous experiences in Round Rock, Rowlett and Greenville, what inspired your interest in economic development and project management?
I was raised to help my surrounding community. That’s kind of the mantra that my family [had]. My brother is a police officer up in the metroplex, up in Dallas. I thought I was going into city management, but I kind of found what I consider a fun side of city government, and that is economic development. It goes back to building that community by building a strong economic base—by having strong, quality jobs and bringing in commercial development—so that therefore the elected officials have a tax base to be able to create more parks and hire more firemen and policemen and do a great job at the library. If you have that strong commercial base, a high-end commercial base, that generates tax revenue for those things to occur. So, I see it as a way of helping out the community.

What are some long-term goals that you have for Cedar Park?
Pretty simple: we want to make Cedar Park the next employment hub of the MSA [metropolitan statistical area]. We’re looking to increase the daytime population tremendously. We also want to develop unique and entertaining development opportunities. So [the goal is] a mixed use of elements that would be unique to the region that would bring in people from all over the state to Cedar Park to visit, spend their money, shop [and] everything else. Really expanding the economy and making Cedar Park the employment hub of the MSA, that’s what we’re looking to do.

What are you most looking forward to this year in your role?
Starting to execute our plan for economic development moving forward. … Getting the tools in place to be more proactive for Cedar Park, to where we can target companies. Instead of waiting for them to contact us, we want to go out and reach out to those companies and tell them about Cedar Park and tell them where they need to be. I’m also excited about some of the very exciting projects that we have in the pipeline that will hopefully come to fruition this year, that will really put Cedar Park on the map. And I think that’s going to be very exciting for everyone in the region, but I think the citizens of Cedar Park will be very excited about the projects that we have in the pipeline. So project announcements and steering the program to the proactive-style are the two things I’m most excited about.

Incentivizing economic growth
How the city offers companies incentives
1) Typically use 380 agreements, a type of economic development agreement, for performance-based incentives
2) Look at capital investments, jobs and infrastructure needs
3) Ensure city faces little to no risk
4) Can work with state on skills development fund and tax enterprise fund
5) Can be tax agreements and grants when certain milestones are reached
6) Tailor incentives to each project
Source: Ben White, economic development director for the city of cedar park/Community Impact Newspaper

By Elizabeth Ucles
Elizabeth is the reporter for Community Impact Newspaper's Frisco edition. She graduated from St. Edward's University with a degree in Writing and Rhetoric with a journalism concentration and a minor in Spanish in May 2019. Elizabeth covers public and higher education, development and transportation.


A graphic outlining aims of Travis County's climate action plan
Travis County approves first ever climate action plan

Travis County commissioners voted June 2 on a collection of short to long terms goals to ward off climate change on the local level.

Travis County had an estimated 2,044 active coronavirus cases June 2. (Nicholas Cicale/Community impact Newspaper)
Austin metro COVID-19 hospitalizations at 97 as Travis County cases increase by 73

Travis County had an estimated 2,044 active coronavirus cases June 2.

Of the confirmed cases, 412 have recovered. (Community Impact staff)
Williamson County adds 6 confirmed cases of coronavirus June 2

Of the confirmed cases, 412 have recovered.

(Designed by Rachal Russell/Community Impact Newspaper)
Here is how to file a civil rights complaint in the Austin area

Citizens who feel they need to file a civil rights case against law enforcement have several avenues to make a complaint.

Cedar Park High School (Courtesy Leander ISD)
PHOTOS: Leander ISD's six high schools host cap and gown pickups

Vandegrift High School's class of 2020 picked up their caps and gowns during a socially distant drive-thru at VHS on May 29.

COVID-19 hospitalizations also increased to 97 in the Austin metro. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
88 new coronavirus cases in Travis County on June 1 set single-day high

COVID-19 hospitalizations also increased to 97 in the Austin metro.

Richard Rhodes, the president and CEO of Austin Community College, said June 1 that the district is prioritizing the hiring of a new chief equity, diversity and inclusion officer. (Courtesy Austin Community College)
Austin Community College prioritizing hiring equity officer despite ongoing hiring freeze

The district brought up the hiring during a discussion about protests and demonstrations that have taken place over the past weekend.

Businesses shuttering their doors due to coronavirus restrictions lowered the sales tax revenue collected by cities in May compared to May 2019. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texas comptroller reports 13.2% year-over-year state sales tax revenue drop in May

Tax collection revenue fell significantly in several sectors from May 2019 to May 2020, according to the comptroller's office.

Williamson County reported 34 additional cases between May 30 and June 1. (Screenshot courtesy Williamson County)
OVER THE WEEKEND: 34 new cases of coronavirus, additional death reported in Williamson County

Currently, 10 patients are hospitalized, and four are in intensive care, per the report.

Demonstrators gathered at the Texas Capitol on May 31 to protest police brutality. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texas officials respond to demonstrations, unrest in wake of George Floyd killing

Gov. Greg Abbott issued a state of disaster in Texas on May 31, while various city officials and law enforcment responded to protests and violence over the weekend.