Brownwood civic and governmental leaders rolled out the red carpet Wednesday for representatives of several state agencies, providing a familiarization tour of the industrial and business districts while showcasing the economic progress the area is experiencing.
“You have seen some outstanding features of our community, and you’re going to hear about many more,” Brownwood Mayor Bert Massey said at a luncheon at Howard Payne University’s Mabee Center.
Massey praised the previous generations of Brownwood area pioneers who created Lake Brownwood, then Camp Bowie, and then the Brownwood industrial park.
“This community is the result of three generations of people who were determined that this was not going to be just another dusty West Texas town… We hope we can show we are justifiably proud of what they created. We can’t claim credit for what they’ve done, but we do assume responsibility for what they have left.”
The day started with a brunch at the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce followed by a bus tour of Camp Bowie industries. But most of the industrial tour was spent at Barr Fabrication, where construction of a 27,000-square-foot manufacturing facility financed in part by a $750,000 Texas Capital Fund grant is nearing completion. The building will more than double the size of the plant, and create at least 51 new jobs.
The lunch also featured remarks by Dr. Lanny Hall, Howard Payne president; Mandy Locker, regional director for U.S. Congressman Mike Conaway; and Dr. Reece Blincoe, Brownwood school superintendent.
Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce President-elect Stephen Haynes narrated a Power Point presentation on the history and economic progress enjoyed by this area. The slide show, “Big City Opportunities, Small Town Values,” provided a history of the area’s development and focuses on numerous statistics reflecting the community’s progress.
The afternoon included tours of Texas State Technical College’s Brownwood center, the downtown business district, the Lehnis Railroad Museum, the Depot Civic and Cultural Center and the Gordon Wood Hall of Champions.
Among those attending were Annette Holmes, Texas Comptroller’s office regional representative; Scott Smith, state location specialist, governor’s office; Texas Rick Rhodes, assistant commissioner for rural development, Texas Department of Agriculture; Chandra Eggemeyer, rural economic development representative, Texas Department of Agriculture; and Steven Collins, Workforce Solutions of West Texas. Hosting them were the City of Brownwood and its Economic Development Corporation, the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce and other partnering entities.
After detailing the accomplishments of Brownwood residents in the past, Massey noted that the current generation has made its contributions as well, bringing TSTC to the community, recruiting and supporting a variety of industries and building a community attractive to major national retailers.
“It’s not enough to be proud of what you have,” Massey said, “you have to make it grow. We have an equal challenge in the future as to that which has met in the past, and that’s why we solicit your input and for that we are grateful for your presence.”
Hall said the university is growing, with a total enrollment of 1,385 with just over 1,200 at the Brownwood campus. HPU is also growing in regional and national acclaim, having been ranked by U.S. News & World Report as ninth in the west among bachelor degree granting institutions and second for best value.
Locker said number of politically active residents, the large medical community and number of industries promoted Conaway to decide to place a regional office in Brownwood after his election four years ago.
“The benefits include more access to the flow of information to the community and to the congressman,” Locker said. “I can hear a lot of the voices of the community just by virtue of living here.”
Blincoe said the purpose of public schools is to prepare students for the future - not a standardized test.
“But when we best prepare students for the future, we’re going to easily clear those hurdles,” Blincoe said. “This is truly a community in every sense of the word - people working together for the improvement of all.”
Blincoe pointed to cooperative programs the district has with Howard Payne and TSTC, as well as other programs to prepare students either for the workplace or for higher education.
“We’re all in this together, and we’re going to succeed together,” Blincoe said.