As Spanish explorers made their way onto the Caprock, each stake offered a sense of perspective, fortitude and direction that was driven into the earth. Having found a prime location to inhabit, a vision of what could be is what we know as the legacy of the “staked plains”, or Llano Estacado. In economic development, we approach every day with the same perspective: the turning of soil brings new potential to our community and fortifies our future.
Over the past seven years, I have had the privilege to welcome immense growth in our community and see firsthand the result of strategic planning, hard work, and collective vision committed by the teams at LEDA and Market Lubbock, Inc.
During my time on the board, LEDA welcomed 109 companies from 2014-2021 with more than $566 in capital investment and 5,265 jobs announced. Our workforce grew by 13,469, as well as wages across Lubbock County increased by $222,111,527. Of this growth, the most notable project during my tenure on the board was the expansion of Leprino Foods. With an $870 million capital investment, the single largest investment since LEDA’s inception, this global leader saw the determination of our community and the can-do attitude of our locals as opportunities for a successful partnership. In the same context, prior to Leprino Foods, I had the pleasure of serving on the board when we announced the Monsanto Cotton Seed Processing Plant in 2016 with a $140 million capital investment, known now as Bayer Crop Science. This site served as the company’s primary facility for cotton processing in the U.S. With 25% of the nation’s cotton production and industry leading research, Bayer Crop Science further established Lubbock the epicenter for the agriculture industry.
Mindful planning for Lubbock’s continued growth was a key component for strategic planning over these last few years. From infrastructure improvements in the Lubbock Business Park and Rail Port to the construction of two speculative buildings, LEDA maintains a big picture perspective preparing for growth over the next 10 years.
It’s no secret our city is growing, and more people are moving here every day. I was my honor to be a part of LEDA’s workforce campaigns, #Return2LBK and #StayinLBK, focused on encouraging people to move back and/or stay here following graduation. Along with our marketing efforts, the comprehensive approach to our workforce development programs established through High Demand Job Training Grants have a tremendous long-term impact on our skilled workforce. Since 2014, the total employment across the city has grown by nearly 12,846 jobs, with more than $3.3 million awarded to our area schools in partnership with Workforce Solutions South Plains, Texas Workforce Commission and surrounding area economic development entities for career and technical education programs and equipment.
In addition to our investment in Lubbock’s workforce, we have invested in our community to make it a place where people want to live and work. One of the greatest investments in our community is the emphasis on the revitalization of downtown. Downtown Lubbock continues to see extension revitalization as the area transforms into a vibrant, thriving place for locals and visitors once again. Through initiatives such as Market Lubbock’s Downtown Grant Program, companies are attracted to invest in the future of this area, breathing new life into the heart of our city. Since its inception in 2016, more than $55 million of private investment has been invested into downtown Lubbock, with every $1 in public investment $21.89 of private investment was contributed. Each grant takes shape to create the aesthetic of our downtown Lubbock culture through the function of an art gallery, photography studio, brewery, and Michelin star-worthy restaurant. These improvements set into motion a domino effect of continued interest in investing in the area.
Not only does this interest in downtown bring locals to the area, but the vitality and intrigue of downtown brings visitors to our city as well. Since 2014, Lubbock has witnessed a 19.5% increase in room demand and an 18.5% increase in hotel and lodging revenue. Whether the visitor traveled to Lubbock for access to state-of-the-art healthcare, to visit students at one of our universities, taste award-winning wine, cheer on their team at a sporting event, or attend a business meeting, Lubbock is a premier tourism destination for all. With the additional of Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts and Sciences and the updates to the Berl Huffman Athletic Complex, LEDA partnered with our community to ensure people have plenty of reasons to visit Lubbock for years to come.
As we reflect on all we have accomplished, we make way for what is to come. Lubbock is in the ideal situation to experience a boom in development across all sectors. Whether it be growing businesses or an increase in tourism numbers, Lubbock’s long-standing roots are enriched with a desire for more. I am confident Lubbock is on the cusp of something great.
I look back on all that was accomplished during my time on the board and am humbled by the extraordinary team at LEDA and Market Lubbock. It was a pleasure working alongside them as well as my fellow board members. Because of the efforts of this team, as well as our partners and the Lubbock City Council, our community is well positioned for continued growth and success for many years to come.
2020-21 Chairman of the Board for LEDA, Visit Lubbock and Market Lubbock, Inc.