Victoria City Council at its meeting Tuesday declared the week of May 4 to 9 Economic Development Week in recognition of local efforts to create jobs, advance career development opportunities and raise quality of life.
Economic Development Week is an initiative by the International Economic Development Council, a nonprofit that works to promote economic development among its member organizations.
Promoting economic opportunity was identified as a focus area under Plan 2035, the City’s long-range comprehensive plan. In recent years the City has taken a directed approach to growing Victoria’s economy through measures such as offering business incentives, partnering with the Victoria Main Street Program and contracting with consulting firm The Retail Coach to recruit new businesses to the city. As the COVID-19 pandemic hampers economic activity in Victoria and around the Crossroads, the City’s role in boosting the economy continues to be important.
In response to the diverse needs and challenges presented by the COVID-19 situation, the City Manager’s Office formed the Coronavirus Liaison Team, a coalition of business groups, nonprofits and other community organizations led by the City’s two assistant city managers. The purpose of this team is to identify needs and share ideas and resources to meet those needs. The liaison team’s initiatives to address the economic situation in Victoria include launching the COVID-19 relief fund in partnership with local nonprofit leaders and establishing a computer lab to help residents with limited internet access file for unemployment.
The liaison team also works to amplify resources created by local business organizations. For example, the Victoria Chamber of Commerce launched a Facebook page called “Together 4 Victoria” to enable local businesses to advertise their curbside services and hours of operation. Additionally, the Victoria Economic Development Corporation (VEDC) joined a consortium of economic development organizations and chambers of commerce across the Coastal Bend in conducting surveys of local businesses. The information gathered will help local economic development groups assess the needs of businesses and better assist them in recovering from the pandemic.
Boosting Victoria’s local economy is an important function of various City departments, and these activities have taken on heightened importance during the pandemic. The City’s partnership with the Victoria Main Street Program benefits the economy by allowing the City to play a more direct role in building a thriving downtown. Throughout the COVID-19 situation, Main Street Program Director Danielle Williams has been in constant contact with downtown business owners, notifying them of new and changing assistance programs and helping them to understand state and local orders.
The Convention and Visitors Bureau has likewise found creative ways to help its travel partners promote their services during the pandemic, such as hosting a giveaway that encouraged residents to post pictures of takeout meals and educating businesses about available funding and resources. The bureau actively promotes local businesses in order to boost Victoria’s tourism profile.
Also, the City is in the process of completing various road projects that will help Victoria attract and retain businesses by enhancing mobility and building a more appealing city. These projects include the creation of Placido Benavides Drive, which, when completed, will open up a new section of undeveloped land for the creation of a design district, adding a new way for the City to attract high-end developers and businesses.
The new Placido Benavides Drive will be funded entirely by revenue from the Victoria Sales Tax Development Corporation (STDC), which continues to be a key asset in promoting economic development in Victoria. The STDC oversees funds generated by the city’s half-cent sales tax, which legally must be used for economic development projects, and ensures funding is used for initiatives that will attract businesses, create jobs and enhance livability in Victoria.
PHOTO #1: A sign advertises curbside pickup and delivery services at Rosebud Records, Grill & Theater. The Victoria Main Street Program distributed the signs to downtown restaurants to help them advertise their modified services during the pandemic.
PHOTO #2: Placido Benavides Drive is open between East Larkspur Street and Salem Road. When completed, the new road will open up undeveloped land for the creation of a new design district.