With many areas of the United States suffering an economic downturn, board members of the Brownwood Economic Development Corporation were told Tuesday that the local area is fortunate.
“The number of people employed is really very consistent,” BEDC Executive Director James Campbell said. “The people who live here and are employed here are keeping their jobs. The labor force numbers fluctuate some, but the total number of people employed remains very consistent, which is good - very good. There may be some weak places in the United States, but in Brown County, we’re very fortunate.”
Campbell told of a meeting arranged by the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce last week in Austin with representative of several state agencies, and after their discussion, they commented on the fact that the Brownwood area is faring better economically than most cities, even in Texas.
BEDC board members reviewed three months of employment data, which showed that the number of people employed in Brown County was 18,245 in May, 18,264 in June and 18,241 in July. The jobless rate in Brown County has risen from 4.0 percent, to 4.7 percent to 4.8 percent, but those are lower than national jobless rates which were 5.2 percent, 5.7 percent and 6.0 percent during those three months, respectively.
“Our sales tax receipts were up almost 9 percent (from the same period in 2007) last month, a nice improvement that almost brought us back in line with what we had budgeted,” Campbell added. He said the August rebate will be 3.03 percent higher than the same month last year. With one month left in the fiscal year, the BEDC may end right on budget for that revenue.
“It’s going to be close, real close,” Campbell said.
Campbell said the Brownwood 3M plant continues to thrive, and is not expected to be affected by a small corporate layoff announced recently. Kohler Co., which is directly tied to the construction industry, is “holding their own,” Campbell said. Smaller companies are doing well, he added.
In other business, city officials expressed their appreciation for the service of Wes Heald, who resigned from the BEDC board because of his move to Williamson County.
“I’ve appointed every member of the BEDC board since it was created, and you’re one of those appointments that made me proudest,” Brownwood Mayor Bert Massey said while presenting Heald with a plaque. “It says a lot of your dedication to your hometown to be willing to serve after rising to the top of the Department of Transportation and coming home and continuing to serve.”
Heald accepted the BEDC board appointment following his retirement as executive director of the Texas Department of Transportation.
A replacement member will probably not be named for several months.
The BEDC board also:
• Approved its 2008-2009 fiscal year budget, which will go to the city council for adoption next month. Expenses total $2,519,700 with revenues of about $1.5 million, and cash held over from the current year will bridge the difference. Campbell said the budget includes $1 million of the $6 million in economic development sales tax money the BEDC has committed for projects that will build parks, a swimming pool and senior citizens facility.
• Heard Campbell and Texas State Technical College Associate Vice President Brian Kight report that the college’s board of regents has accepted the offer to donate the Brownwood center to the college. Campbell said the donation will allow the state to invest in capital improvements to expand the facility, and give the school control of the property.
Kight said the fall semester will start Monday with 110 to 115 new students, and a total enrollment of about 400 - about the same as last year including dual credit students from area high schools.
“We aren’t growing by leaps and bounds, but we may grow a little bit,” Kight said.