When it comes to the impact of economic development and the result of each project won and conference hosted, the motivation of every decision made is the impact it has on the citizens of Lubbock and the opportunities for jobs and quality of life. Often, we don’t think about how our lives are affected by new businesses locating in Lubbock or an organization hosting its four-day conference here. At the end of the day, it affects every citizen by generating tax dollars for the economy and stimulating job growth.
Along with bringing new businesses to town and supporting the local industries, LEDA is focused on developing a highly-skilled workforce needed for business development. From middle school to high school and within the workforce, LEDA is a catalyst for connecting students and workers with opportunities to advance their skills and gain access to jobs.
For students, LEDA utilizes funds from the High Demand Job Training Grants awarded by the Texas Workforce Commission along with support from Workforce Solutions South Plains, to provide equipment for the 11-county school districts’ career and technical education programs. These programs develop skills which are in high demand within our community such as welding, coding and more. This year, the fifth High Demand Job Training Grant supported culinary arts, construction, health sciences and truck driving. In addition to the experience, some of the courses offer certificates upon completion. These programs provide the foundational skills needed for students to be prepared to enter the workforce upon graduation.
In partnership with Texas Tech University, South Plains College and the Austin Coding Academy, LEDA established the Lubbock Coding Academy which provides training in web development and computer programming. The academy partnered with Dunbar Middle School to offer after school programs for students interested in coding along with a summer camp for Frenship ISD. Whether someone just graduated from high school, is employed in the technology industry and looking to advance their skills, or in a completely different career and looking for a new opportunity, this program offers its students the prospect of acquiring a high paying job following a year of training.
To continue cultivating Lubbock’s workforce and the needs of our universities and community college, the City of Lubbock and the LEDA negotiated with South Plains College to bring an academic center to downtown Lubbock. In collaboration with Texas Tech University and South Plains College, the Techsan to Red Raider program was established, facilitating an avenue for students to attend a four-year university. This year, these partners signed a performance agreement agreeing that South Plains College would purchase and begin renovations on the former City Hall after it was vacated in 2020. This academic center will allow citizens with limited resources to further their education and obtain skills to enter the workforce.
Along with the access to education and a connection with Texas Tech, as well as adding to the growth of our workforce, this academic center will have a significant impact on Lubbock’s downtown revitalization efforts, bringing 2,500 students into downtown every day. The addition of a community college spurs activity in downtown such as hotels, restaurants and nightlife.
To encourage entrepreneurship and innovation, LEDA supports initiatives at the Innovation HUB such as the Ideation Program, the TTU Accelerator Program, and the Spark Conference during “Discoveries to Impact” week, to name a few. These programs develop entrepreneurs and enable them to be successful in their efforts during and after their time at the Innovation HUB. Whether the company is focused on engineering microfluidic technologies like NemaLife Inc. or embryo selection technology like EmGenisys, LEDA believes the work done at the Innovation HUB impacts research and development on a global scale contributing not only to the culture of entrepreneurship in our community but to the advancement of technology and solutions for far-reaching problems.
These career and technical education programs are just a few examples of how LEDA works to support Lubbock’s workforce. Along with these programs, LEDA actively recruits new businesses to expand in Lubbock, providing more job opportunities. With a thriving workforce, businesses see a place where people want to live and work and attract the talent with the many job openings. With a statewide unemployment rate of just over 3%, the recruitment of a highly skilled workforce is essential to meeting the needs of these expanding businesses. As more businesses bring more jobs, the city’s population grows which brings more restaurants and entertainment options. This growth affects the hospitality industry and results in more visitors coming to Lubbock. As more visitors come to Lubbock, property owners save more on their property taxes.
In the end, LEDA, Market Lubbock, and Visit Lubbock’s efforts are focused on serving every citizen by creating jobs, training the people of Lubbock, and sharing with businesses why they want to be in the “Hub City.”
Chairman of the LEDA Board