Significant achievements in economic development happen when you approach a project with a solution-driven mentality that is focused on addressing not just the need at hand but working in a way that ensures future growth. Our focus continues to be creating a place where people want to live and work and where industry thrives.
LEDA and Market Lubbock’s attention to projects designed to enhance the overall quality of life for citizens enables us to attract tomorrow’s workforce. Because of these projects, along with a below-average cost of living, a great work/life balance and a vibrant cultural scene, Lubbock has become one of the Top 20 Cities in the United States Where Millennials are Moving.
To stimulate an ideal living and working environment, Market Lubbock initiated two significant projects which improve the quality of life for citizens and bring more visitors to Lubbock. The revitalization of downtown Lubbock and the improvements to the Berl Huffman Athletic Complex are initiatives which creates a place where tomorrow’s workforce wants to live and work. These projects complement the City of Lubbock’s recent investments in the community, which include food truck ordinance changes, the addition of new bike lanes and development of dog parks.
Downtown’s revitalization is key to attracting the future generation of our workforce, and therefore, a crucial component to instigating business growth in our great city. Along with catalytic projects such as the Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts and Sciences and the City of Lubbock’s relocation to Citizens Tower, Market Lubbock’s downtown grant program has ignited our business and entertainment districts with transformative developments. Downtown Lubbock is now thriving with new residential spaces, like the Courthouse Lofts, new businesses, including Two Docs Brewing Co., and new accommodations, such as the Cotton Court Hotel and Pioneer Pocket Hotel. South Plains College will also begin renovations on the current City Hall to open a new academic center in early 2020, bringing 2,500 students downtown every day.
Our investment in the Berl Huffman Athletic Complex mirrors this strategy. By upgrading the irrigation system and existing roads, as well as adding the championship fields, LED lighting, and designated areas for food trucks, this facility will rival any in the state. By making these significant improvements to this 86-acre facility, we are creating a place where our locals are eager to attend athletic competitions and where visitors are eager to compete in tournaments hosted on our first-class championship fields. With an estimated opening weekend of Memorial Day 2020, this massive project is already catching the eye of tournament directors who are interested in playing at this premier facility.
Each of these projects provide the momentum needed to encourage people to live and work in Lubbock while attracting visitors as well. As a result, Lubbock welcomed 6.48 million visitors, 1.7 million more than a decade ago, generating over $900 million in economic impact last year. As the seventh most popular MSA destination in Texas, Lubbock continues to benefit as tourism brings more wealth and property tax savings. When it comes to quality of life in Lubbock, tourism plays an invaluable role. As a result of the booming hospitality industry, we see more entertainment venues, restaurants, and nationally recognized chains like The Cheesecake Factory and P.F. Changs make their way to Lubbock. In return, more jobs are being created which attracts more people who both want to visit as well as those who choose to relocate to our city. While the “Hub City” continues to be recognized for our talents, attractions, and evolving culture, we expect to see continued growth in both culture and industry.
To prepare our citizens for new business growth, LEDA equips our workforce with the skills needed for high-demand jobs. For instance, the Lubbock Coding Academy provides students with the skills needed for the ever-growing technology industry. Additionally, LEDA continues to support 11-county school districts with High Demand Job Training Grants which assist with career and technical education for middle and high school students. As a result of this collective push in our present and future workforce, we have seen tremendous business growth, adding more than 11,000 jobs over the past 5 years, ⅓ of which paid over $50,000 a year. With in-demand skills training, Lubbock offers a rich pool of talent, making it the ideal place to begin a career or move a business. This environment stimulates a culture where industry thrives, and start-ups emerge.
In fact, as a result of our population growth, diversity of growth sectors, support for start-ups and economic development strategy, Business Facilities recognized the “Hub City” as one of the fastest growing mid-sized cities for economic growth potential in the country. Because of this environment, we’ve welcomed new businesses such as WL Plastics, announced local expansions like FAST Inc., and broke ground on research companies such as Corteva Agriscience.
In closing, I’d like to thank our board of directors and the city council for their support and dedication to our city. Also, I’d like to recognize our city officials and community leaders for making Lubbock a wonderful place to live and work. As we look forward to the future of our city, we must continue pursuing projects dedicated to both improving the quality of life for our citizens and attracting our future workforce. By investing in these efforts, we build a city where industry thrives, culture emerges and people visit.
President & CEO of the Lubbock Economic Development Alliance