The Institute for Economic Development has been awarded a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to fund a three-year program, the Eagle Ford Shale Community Development Program (EFSCDP). It will provide communities in South Texas with planning services, research, and workshops to explore and develop strategies for creating a vibrant and sustainable economy for the future. The EFSCDP will help communities make sound decisions about how to react to predictable changes in EFS business activity in order to promote sustainable economic progress by: increasing community capacity, developing strategic plans, improving leadership, and sharing best practices within South Texas rural communities being directly and indirectly impacted by the Eagle Ford Shale (EFS) oil and gas activity. The Institute for Economic Development refers to this innovative approach as “strategically-sequenced” economic development.
Project areas include Atascosa, Bee, Bexar, Dewitt, Dimmit, Duval, Frio, Gonzales, Jim Wells, Karnes, Kinney, La Salle, Live Oak, Maverick, McMullen, Medina, Nueces, San Patricio, Uvalde, Webb and Zavala counties. EFSCDP staff will also work closely with the five regional planning agencies: Middle Rio Grande Development Council, Alamo Area Council of Governments, Golden Crescent Regional Planning Commission, South Texas Development Council and the Coastal Bend Council of Governments.
There are five EFSCDP phases starting with, Assessment. During this phase the center will invite communities within the EFS region to join the project team to explore the relative strategic strengths of each area. Participants will also be able to identify capabilities that they would like to develop or improve. The Research phase will investigate by community, the characteristics of current and planned economic activity to develop a probabilistic timeline of key events that are expected to occur. The Capacity Building phase will include the development of workshops designed to build the economic development, leadership, strategic planning and other identified skills necessary to effectively leverage the local data developed in the Research phase. The Planning Goals phase of the project will determine if there are existing strategic plans for the participant communities, or whether a strategic plan needs to be developed for the community. Existing strategic plans will be studied to determine whether they adequately address the issue(s) identified during the Assessment and Research phases and if necessary, what types of revisions are necessary and how to accomplish such revisions. Finally, the Implementation phase will involve EFSCDP assisting each of the communities to carry out their strategic plans.
First, the Research phase will provide the critical information necessary to prioritize efforts to secure the optimal types and timing for building sustainable baseline economic activity in the community. Second, knowledge of economic development principles, leadership (including teaming skills) plus strategic planning skills acquired in EFSCDP workshops will prove invaluable to the formation of larger planning teams that will attract seed capital that can in turn, be used to attract the optimal businesses types. Having effective Strategic Plans and larger planning teams are critical to this process. The UTSA Institute for Economic Development has a long history of involvement in South Texas and in working with the leadership of South Texas communities to bring the expertise of the university’s faculty and staff to enhance community resources, address regional problems, and improve the economic well-being of the region. UTSA has created a 21st century vision for Tier One status and the Eagle Ford Shale Community Development Program will further help fulfill that vision by driving research, job creation and sustainable economic impact to the EFS region.