County, EDC discuss partnerships, strategic plan

EDC Chief Business Development Officer Allison Baker addressing county fire officials about public safety in bringing managed growth to Parker County.

After the Parker County commissioners recently approved the strategic plan, county and economic development council officials discussed more details on what it means.

“The message out of that strategic plan is we’re pro growth when it comes to managed growth. It’s going to happen. We can put our head in the sand and we’re going to get overwhelmed, so the growth is going to happen, but if we deal with it head-on in a proactive way we can influence that growth in a way that aligns with that the constituents and the community wants,” County Judge Pat Deen said. “What we don’t want is to tear down every tree out here and every lot there is and get some business on it, that is absolutely not the case. We want to keep the identity of who we are, yet find those opportunities for high-wage growth that impacts the communities in the county in a positive way without tearing those trees down, if you will — that’s figuratively speaking.”

Deen said working with the economic development council is key in the strategic plan and EDC Chief Business Development Officer Allison Baker said their objective is to follow the county’s lead.

“We are excited and humbled by our inclusion in this plan and will work diligently with the county to provide the support necessary to reach its goals,” Baker said. “Our objective is to follow the county’s lead in encouraging managed growth while protecting all of those reasons we love living here.”

One of the strategic plan goals is to explore partnerships and entrepreneurial ways to plan, fund, leverage transportation improvements and Deen was approved by the commissioners to serve as the Parker and Wise counties representative on the North Central Texas Council of Governments’ Regional Transportation Council.

“The Regional Transportation Council really ties in to a lot of what we did with the strategic plan and the focus on transportation and to strengthen our position with the North Central Texas Council of Governments for funding for the expansion of roadways and dealing with this traffic that we’re having with the east/west corridor going to Fort Worth,” Deen said. “I will represent the county’s best interest on getting funding, getting projects on the system with regard to what we need to deal with growth and traffic we have currently, and planning for that future growth that’s coming.”

Deen said right now there is only one project on the books with NCTCOG, which is the East Loop project.

“My goal is to have a map with multiple projects with it and getting those in front of the council and pushing them to get funding and work with [Texas Department of Transportation],” Deen said. “It’s critical that that voice be very loud and clear with what our needs are in Parker County as well as in Wise County.”

Baker recently met with county fire departments to begin discussion to ensure public safety is considered in every economic development decision. The EDC has also partnered with several entities, including the Weatherford and East Parker County chambers of commerce, Weatherford College, the Mineral Wells Airport and Workforce Solutions.

“We want to be certain that every economic development decision made is an informed one,” Baker said. “Whether it’s workforce availability, training capacity, the future location of an elementary school, or planned road improvements, we want to know that new and existing businesses have the information they need to be successful. We believe that knowledge is the key to managed growth while protecting that hometown feel.”