Thursday, January 17, 2013

Developing Longview's "Front Door"

My leadership role at the Longview Chamber of Commerce ends tonight with the annual Chamber Banquet. Over 600 will gather at Maude Cobb to celebrate Longview's business community. It has been impressive to watch how well the Longview economy has survived the Great Recession which began in 2008.

Unemployment here never reached the levels found nationally and, while growth in Longview did slow, we are one of few places with recent growth in both population and income.

Longview has also built an exceptional Chamber of Commerce with more than 1,000 business members. The Chamber is one of a very few to be recognized with "Five Star Accreditation" by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Last year, Longview's Chamber was runner-up for the national "Chamber of the Year" award.

With Kelly Hall, president of the Longview Chamber of Commerce
Longview Mayor Jay Dean has asked me to chair a task force he is creating. The task force will be charged with making recommendations on what the City Council can do to encourage and facilitate development of our I-20 corridor that runs through Longview. The interstate is in our neighborhood, and obviously development is important to LeTourneau University. But I-20 is important to all of Longview because it is the "front door" to our community.

Economic development of South Longview will happen only as the result of private-public partnerships. The city government can take action to encourage and protect the investment of private developers who will see the heavily traveled I-20 as an opportunity. In fact, just the appointment of the task force is a huge step forward in saying to private developers, "We want to help you bring economic growth and beautification to South Longview."

I don't pretend to have all the answers, but I can certainly see the opportunity and sense the urgency for Longview to act. And I appreciate LeTourneau University having a voice in the process. After all, we are "Longview's University."