Kerrville City Council preceded the regular council meeting June 8 with a council workshop, discussing an AARP award to Kerrville; followed by a quarterly update on the business matters at the Kerr Economic Development Council.
Waverly Jones, president of the City of Kerrville’s “Senior Services Committee,” announced an award from the AARP to the city’s senior services group of the designation of “AARP Age Friendly Community.” Jones said one of their aims was to continue to work with items in the Kerrville 2050 Plan through the SSC’s subcommittees.
Jones said Kerrville is one of eight Texas cities to receive this designation. When the list of the eight cities was shown on a Power Point, she pointed out all the other seven are much larger than Kerrville.
“We have unique resources we can tap into here,” she told council.
She said now they need to market this designation especially to new and younger residents, because it includes a video, books, transportation lessons and space-making lessons that can be considered here.
Jones said this designation also offers Kerrville the ability to apply for grants they might not have known about before this; and that amounts could range from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands.
Council asked Jones if this AARP designation was different from individuals who apply to be AARP member. Jones said yes, that individual memberships still cost a fee, but this “Age Friendly Community” designation was free for the committee to apply for, for the city.
She also said Kim Meismer is the liaison from the city staff to this Senior Services Committee.
Council was told there are at least three connections from the community to this city committee, including Karen Burkett and others from Kerr Konnect.
Council members also asked if a “needs assessment survey” needs to be circulated through the community; and Jones said yes, and they are planning to do that, too.
Jones said not only the city but also nonprofits, subdivisions and counties can apply for grants.
Gil Salinas and Teresa Metcalf presented a quarterly update on the Kerr Economic Development Council’s recent activities.
Salinas noted the national rate of growth recently was measured at 6.4 percent but he also thinks the country has “hit bottom and is beginning to climb out.”
He said unemployment here is now measured at 4.8 percent, a reduction from the 5.7 percent rate last March, and reminded council it was measured at 18 percent 18 months ago.
“We have companies doing job fairs and many have hiring signs posted,” Salinas said.
About housing, he said he’s hearing reports of hopeful new home buyers offering to pay $35,000-40,000 over asking price, and added, “I also heard recently about one homeowner who received $75,000 over his asking price. And that’s the situation over the entire Hill Country and in San Antonio.”
He said economists think it may be six months to one year out when supply and demand gets more leveled out.
On recent business contacts here, Salinas said one was a real estate person asking questions for a boutique hotel and plans that are just starting; and another was an investor in residential subdivisions.
A third was a site selector from Dallas for two national restaurant chains.
Salinas called the Hill Country “a regional hub.”
He said he’s also had preliminary talks with two firearms manufacturers, who asked questions based on being located within 100 miles of major airports, so San Antonio and Austin are both in that mix. These also are being discussed with the Governor’s office in Austin.
He’s also been contacted by an ammunition manufacturer now located in North Dakota who said they want a 40,000-square-foot facility, and would offer 100 jobs over five years.
Council asked him what these company representatives want to see while here; and he said, where the workforce housing is, Kerrville’s Walmart and other manufacturing clusters, and the River Trail. One council member said he ought to point them from Walmart to Gibson’s; and he agreed.
Asked if his housing answers included Lennar’s planned subdivision, he said yes, but they also want to know about Kerrville’s different socio-economic areas and its workforce.
He said Gulf Avionics has launched an office at the Kerrville airport; and he’s made a connection to another aerospace/avionics contact.
On a slight word of warning, Salinas said in economic development, city officials have to mindful about “incentives” they used in the past and might offer again.
Metcalf took council questions on how well some local companies are paying now, including All Plastics, Texas Rail Systems, Fox Tank and James Avery Craftsman. She said those major employers are doing better, but it’s still a struggle for smaller retailers and restaurants.
Locally she said the workforce seeks opportunities to highlight individual businesspersons under age 40; and have created “The Top 40” leaders to be recognized in the community.
She said they want to bring in people to work in entrepreneurships, that there is no age criteria and they’ve expanded their search over nine counties with judges for nominations from all those counties.
“We’re offering a ‘Leadership Mastermind Series,’ using different leadership people, to be a resource for entrepreneurs in our community,” she said.
For example, she helped organize a recent winery tour with lunch; and said a “Business and Innovation Forum” scheduled in March 2019 went virtual, and locals have been asked to host it again in November 2021. There also will be a Governor’s Small Business Initiative at the same time.
KEDC projects are now “pulling from nine counties,” she said.