While many other areas of the nation are suffering economically, two key indicators - retail sales taxes and unemployment - continue to hold their own in the Brown County area.
Members of the board of directors of the Brownwood Economic Development Corporation reviewed recent statistics during their Tuesday meeting.
“We just got it yesterday,” BEDC Executive Director James Campbell told the board of area counties’ employment statistics. The report shows Brown County’s jobless rate stayed the same - 4.8 percent - between August and September, while the number of people employed rose from 18,267 to 18,375. The number in the work force also rose from 19,178 to 19,303, and the number seeking work rose from 911 to 928.
“That’s one thing I like about it,” Campbell said, given the fact that state unemployment rate edged up from 5.1 to 5.2 percent. “The percentage of people unemployed stayed the same. And the number of people employed is up by almost 100.”
The jobless rate in counties surrounding Brown has also remained steady, figures reviewed by the board show.
Coleman County’s rate was up from 4.2. to 4.3 percent, but the number of people employed was also up, from 4,426 to 4,495. Comanche County’s rate remained 4.1 percent, and the number employed was up from 6,403 to 6,610. Eastland County’s rate stayed at 4.9 percent.
The rates in both Mills and San Saba counties fell, from 4.6 to 4.5 in Mills and from 7.1 to 6.8 in San Saba.
The national rate was down a fraction between the two months, from 6.1 to 6.0 percent.
“Our jobless rate has remained very consistent for several months,” Campbell said. “And that rate is well below both the state and national rates.”
Meanwhile, Campbell said the fiscal year ended in September with revenue from the retail sales tax dedicated to the EDC just above the budgeted 4 percent increase from the previous year.
“Most of the revenue was above the budgeted amounts,” Campbell added. “Interest rates did creep up a little… We’ve got a little extra cash in the tank.”
In other business, the board:
• Was told that the marketing position to be jointly funded by the BEDC and the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce will be filled by current chamber tourist director Emily Crawford. Crawford will continue to office in the chamber, and an assistant will be added to the chamber staff to assist with tourism duties. Chamber CEO Laura Terhune said the move will help the community provide a cohesive effort in its marketing efforts. Campbell said he is supportive of the plan, and Brownwood Industrial Foundation officials have expressed agreement as well.
• Reported on the familiarization tour held Oct. 8 at which the chamber and BEDC hosted representatives of five state agencies to “let these agencies know what we have and what we’d like to have,” Campbell said. One direction economic planners are moving is in the attraction of additional white collar jobs, he explained, and the tour has already opened the door to one such opportunity, although it is a longshot. Brownwood meets the minimum requirements listed by a company seeking to locate a data center that would hold $75 million in computer equipment.
“We are attempting to attract that kind of business, one that would bring new white collar jobs that those that would be at a call center,” Campbell said.
The data center would not bring many jobs beyond security and heating/air-conditioning personnel, Campbell said, and the probability that Brownwood would be chosen is not believed to be great.
• Welcomed retired Brownwood city manager Gary Butts to the BEDC board. He fills a position vacated by the resignation of Wes Heald.