Jim Sánchez/ Conexión San Ángelo
Photo courtesy of Diann Bayes, Vice President of the San Angelo Convention & Visitors Bureau

SAN ANGELO –Mayor Brenda Gunter, who was officially sworn in, back on May 16th at the City Council meeting, has been working diligently hard in her position, evidenced by her plans which she succinctly delivered Tuesday afternoon at the San Angelo Chamber of Commerce’ luncheon before its members. The following presentation she made is excerpts from that speech.

“I am here today delivering my first state of the City address . . .” “And, that message is that San Angelo needs greater growth. We need more industry … more jobs … more economic development,” Mayor Gunte, said.

Gunter stated that San Angelo has even bigger opportunities and larger challenges, which is to ensure San Angelo’s economy is “unassailably robust and always poised to thrive.” 

Mayor Gunter also said that during her campaign, one important issue that came up was San Angelo’s property tax rate. Gunter is also very passionate about ensuring that San Angelo is a pro-business city.

“The only way we can relieve the burden on homeowners is by building a bigger commercial tax base. That means creating jobs and opportunities. We can’t do that unless your mayor, your City Council and your City government are projecting a pro-business stance,” she said. 

Gunter outlined four specific keys for sparking greater growth. 

• “We create vision.”

• “We create strategies in support of that vision.”

• We pursue economic development that aligns with that vision and those strategies.”

• "The key to this will be communication for the first time ever between the mayor, the Chamber president and the county judge all sitting together and sharing." “We’re developing partnerships and opening doors,” Gunter said.

• "From a municipal government standpoint, we’ve got to be a city that generates revenue. So we’ve got to think strategically about how we grow revenue. Our facilities need upgrades, our infrastructure needs improvement and the talent on our staff has to be retained. You can’t accomplish those goals with flat revenue year after year. As with a private business, the city survives off revenue. That pays the bills."

“During the City Council’s recent strategic planning session, I offered this list of five economic drivers that must be priorities as we make economic development decisions."

"Number one, Goodfellow Air Force Base. The base is our largest employer, constituting about 10 percent of San Angelo’s workforce. We must keep working with the military and our elected officials to ensure Goodfellow’s continued growth."

"Number two, education. Kudos to Howard College for launching a trade school that will open next year. That effort has been underwritten by the Home Builders Association of San Angelo and the industries attached to that group. The skills those Howard College students will learn will enable them to earn a livable wage. Preparing people through education to earn livable wages and to be ready to fill the jobs of the companies we recruit is key. The ACT Work Ready Community program also aims to accomplish this. These sorts of efforts help us keep young people here. That includes some of the 10,000 students now enrolled at Angelo State University." 

"Number three – medical, healthcare and retirement. Our local health care system is important to attracting retirees. Again, our medical providers not only add to the quality of life here, they are an economic driver. San Angelo must continue to have good health care options." 

"Number four – cultural, recreation and tourism. The arts help bring people to this city. It’s one of the reasons they want to move here or move back here."

"Lastly, our fifth priority economic driver is agriculture, manufacturing, and oil and gas."

"Manufacturing goes hand-in-hand with oil and gas. Many of the oilfield’s subsidiary businesses look at us for manufacturing opportunities. Dragon PES is a prime example. Dragon has announced it is bringing a production tank manufacturing plant to San Angelo. That operation will employ more than 120 people. Where can we grow similar opportunities?"

"As we make economic development decisions, we must keep these economic drivers in mind and ensure everyone understands they are our priorities. That way, we can ensure that decisions made at COSADC or by the City Council are strategic in nature,” said Gunter. 

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