2024 Economic Summit: Data-Driven Summit Unveils Strong Local Economy

Feb 19, 2024

The 2024 Economic Summit, hosted by the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by TexasBank, resonated with data-driven optimism, showcasing the city's economic strides and commitment to sustainable growth. Convening industry leaders, policymakers, and entrepreneurs, the event highlighted Brownwood's along with Texas' strategic investments, robust job market, and collaborative spirit, painting a compelling picture for potential investors and residents.

The 2024 Summit featured keynote speaker Larry McManus, Director of Business and Community Development with Division of Economic Development & Tourism in the office of Governor Greg Abbott. Additional presentations included Joann Coronado of the Texas Workforce Commission, along with Legislative updates provided by Legislative Consultant Joe Morris,Texas State Senator for House District 10 Phil King, and State Representative for House District 68 David Spiller. The City of Brownwood and Brownwood Municipal Development District were represented by Division Director of Economic Development & Tourism Ray Tipton, and Deputy City Manager Marshal McIntosh. A panel discussion ended the event lead by John Belcher over the topics of real estate, health care, transportation, energy, and infrastructure.

Quantifiable Local Economic Strength:

  • Local unemployment rate of 3.6%: Significantly lower than the national average, signifying a thriving job market fueled by diverse industries. Unemployment peaked during the pandemic in April 2020 at 8.9% in Brown County, and 12.3% in Texas.

  • Sales tax revenue growth: Year-over-year increase indicative of strong consumer spending and economic activity. Sales taxes collected in 2023 by the City of Brownwood and the Brownwood MDD totaled $9.7 million. That is an increase of 49% since 2014.

  • Construction valuation exceeding $85 million: Over the last three years within the city limits highlighting significant investments in new residential, commercial, infrastructure and development projects.

  • Hotel occupancy tax increase of 7.1%: Underscoring tourism growth and economic diversification beyond traditional sectors.

  • Direct Visitor Spending: Continued increase year over year. Direct visitor spending in Brown County in 2022 was $66.8 million an increase from 62,200,000 in 2021.

  • Real estate sales volume up by 4.8%: Reflecting a healthy housing market, and noted need for additional inventory in market.

New Business and Manufacturing Growth:

  • Expanding major retailers and national footprint: Freddy's Burgers, T.J. Maxx, and Shoe Department Encore were highlighted as Brownwood gains attention diversifying the retail landscape with national retailers.

  • Brownwood Industrial Park: Attracting new industries and further working to diversifying the economic base, approximately 90 acres of shovel-ready land with all utilities available in our Light Industrial Park. The property is primarily divided into 4 to 6 acre tracts that can be re-platted to suit your needs.

  • $28 million expansion at Kohler Manufacturing: Adding 40-50 new jobs and solidifying Brownwood's manufacturing presence.

  • Superior Essex expanasion: $73 million plant expansion which will take place over the next three years.  The project will add 90,000 square feet to the plant for a total of over 500,000 square feet, and will add 170 new jobs.

Strategic Infrastructure Investments:

  • Parks and Recreation: Enhancing community spaces that are attractive to residents, visitors, and local businesses. Adoption of the 2023 Parks Master Plan, and improvements made to Coggin Park.

  • Leveraging State and Federal Funding Sources: Riverside Park improvements will be visible as two phases of construction. Phase I Improvements of $3,113,912 funding infrastructure improvements such as roadway reconstruction, and lighting will be funded through Federal American Rescue Plan Allocation. Phase II improvements of $1,500,000 funding park and recreation amenities will be primary funded through Texas Parks and Wildlife Department grant.  

  • Brownwood MDD's building improvement incentive program: Leveraging public funds to unlock $5 million in private investments for downtown revitalization.

  • Transportation: With access to major highways and interstates, rail, and air, Brownwood is well-positioned in the geographic center of Texas to serve as a regional transportation hub.

Collaborative Ecosystem:

  • 2024 Economic Summit: The event itself highlights the collaborative nature of Brownwood as a community. The event hosted over 100 attendees facilitating knowledge sharing and fostering connections between businesses, policymakers, and entrepreneurs.

  • Active business associations and chamber advocacy: Providing support and advocacy for local businesses, the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce has 600+ members and is designed to promote economic vitality in Brown County as well as equip businesses for success by providing opportunities for professional and business development, encouraging growth and collaboration between leaders, and being active advocates for local businesses.

  • Strong educational institutions: Howard Payne University contributes $36 million annually to the local economy. As part of HPU's service to the community, modern institutions act as local, regional and even statewide economic drivers. Factors included in the economic impact included employee spending, student spending, visitor spending, university purchases, and capital expenditures.

The 2024 Economic Summit served as a springboard for showcasing Brownwood's data-driven success story. The city's commitment to economic development, collaborative spirit, and strategic investments position it as an attractive destination for businesses and residents seeking a vibrant and thriving community. With continued focus on infrastructure development, business attraction, and talent acquisition, Brownwood is poised for sustained economic growth.