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Tyler named Community of the Year

Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 1:03pm

On Friday, Oct. 5 the City of Tyler will be awarded the Community of the Year award from the American Association of Planners – Texas Chapter (APA) at their annual conference being held in Ft. Worth, Texas.

The APA Texas Planning Awards Program recognizes individuals, organizations and communities for outstanding contributions to planning in Texas. The Community of the Year award is given to a town, city, or county for providing an outstanding contribution to planning. Tyler is receiving the award for the Industry Growth Initiative (IGI) plan launched in 2010.

In an unprecedented joint effort between the Tyler City Council and several community boards, the IGI was formally adopted as a shared vision for Tyler’s strategic economic growth in the next 20 years. Boards represented included the Tyler City Council, Smith County Commissioner’s Court, Tyler Independent School District Board of Trustees, Tyler Junior College Board of Trustees, the Tyler Metro Chamber of Commerce and the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce. Also represented at the meeting were members of the Leadership Roundtable, including the University of Texas – Tyler, UT Health Science Center, Texas College, East Texas Medical Center Regional Healthcare System, the Tyler Economic Development Council, Trinity Mother Frances Hospitals and Clinics, and others.

“I don’t know of another time in Tyler’s history that so many of its elected boards held a joint meeting to adopt a single measure,” commented Mayor Barbara Bass. “This level of support demonstrated the need for the entire community to speak with one voice and work cooperatively for the sake of Tyler’s economic future.”

In early 2009, Mayor Barbara Bass and Senator Kevin Eltife brought together a group of community leaders to discuss shared issues facing the city and region. One of the first items that was raised by this Leadership Roundtable was the need to market Tyler and to determine the industries that made the most sense for Tyler to pursue given our unique assets.

Consequently, the Leadership Roundtable began the development of the IGI in mid-2009. The resulting report recommends 10 primary building blocks that Tyler should develop to foster an Innovation Economy and take the Tyler region into the next twenty years of economic prosperity and growth.

“Our objective with this initiative was to pinpoint the industries that make the most sense to focus resources on given Tyler’s unique characteristics,” said Mayor Bass. “We can’t focus solely upon traditional manufacturing for our economic vitality. We want to continue our efforts to diversify our economic base while preparing ourselves for the evolving global economy.”

The 84 page report, which was commissioned and funded by members of the Leadership Roundtable, contains strategic tactics focused on achieving an Innovation Economy which brings higher paying jobs, economic growth, job creation and a higher standard of living.

“The 21st Century economy is defined by an innovative and entrepreneurial culture,” added Mayor Bass. “This means that Tyler must position itself to attract an educated workforce with high-tech, entrepreneurial skills. This does not mean that legacy industries that have made Tyler what it is should be ignored, but rather this plan provides strategies to build upon an already solid foundation.”

Building blocks toward the Innovation Economy include strategies focused on Higher Education, Healthcare and Bio-Med, Tourism, Arts and Entertainment, 21st Century Energy, Retiree, Infrastructure, Graduate Education and 21st Century Transportation.

Implementation of the plan has been driven by champions assigned to each building block. Each champion also has an established “Cat 100” team that is tasked with reaching the goals established in the plan.

“Significant progress has been made in the last two years through the collaborative efforts of many volunteers and businesses in our community,” added Mayor Bass. “We have taken great strides in each of the building blocks; everything from a CNG station, to a heart hospital, the launch of a committee to explore rail to Dallas, to new graduate education programs. By working together and speaking with one voice, we are achieving our vision of an Innovation Economy.”

A copy of the IGI can be viewed at: http://www.cityoftyler.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=36I%2f0pkqI1o%3d&ta....

For more information on the APA Texas Planning Awards program, visit http://www.txplanning.org/planning-awards/.

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