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Sunday, June 18, 2000
Last modified at 5:58 p.m. on Friday, June 16, 2000
© 2000 - The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

Market Lubbock Inc. leads city's future growth


By KIM SVATEK
Avalanche-Journal

Business growth and retention are key to Lubbock's future.

Lubbock is in a period of slow but steady growth, but people involved in development believe the city is positioned to keep its economy vibrant well into the future.

The city's main economic arm, Market Lubbock Inc., was developed in 1995 to create jobs and investment. Since its creation, Market Lubbock has helped to create more than 4,000 jobs.

"We set a goal for 2,000 jobs in the year 2000, and we are well on our way," Wayne Boling, director of economic development for Market Lubbock, said.

Local expansions by Cox Cable, West Tex manufacturing and Tech Telephone are expected to help meet the 2000 goal and keep it growing.

"We expect to continue on these lines for next 2 or 3 years and hope to create 2000 jobs each year," Boling said.

Over the years, the loss of big businesses such as Furrs Supermarkets and Texas Instruments have put a dent in growth, put officials expect to rebound quickly.

Part of the city's challenge is that it lies in an area of the country that is seeing little population growth. Many smaller rural cities outside of Lubbock are experiencing a loss in population and eroding tax bases.

Also, significant numbers of Lubbockites are heading to booming areas such as the Metroplex to seek their fortunes.

"Unfortunately we're in a non-growth area, so its hard to increase numbers. But our emphasis is on work force development," City planner David Buckberry said. "The city's unemployment is 1 percent lower than the state and 1 to 2 percent lower than the nation. That's good."

The labor market here is tight, but city and Market Lubbock officials see Texas Tech as a valuable asset in securing the economic viability of Lubbock and the South Plains.

"With Tech we have the benefit of having a trained work force here, but we're seeing students move to Dallas, Houston and Austin," Boling said. "We want to create jobs for them here in Lubbock so we can hold on to them and help Lubbock benefit."

Buckberry would like to see Texas Tech create a research park much like ones in California.

"It just clicks through the entire community," Buckberry said.

Tech is heavily involved in the emergence of Reese Technology Center, a research and technology park that has sprung from the former Reese Air Force Base.

The center is working to attract high-tech and research-driven industries to the South Plains.

The city has other assets in place that should help keep it economically viable as well as maintain a good quality of life.

The city has an international airport, ample water resources, a new landfill, a relatively low tax rate, several museums and art centers, 65 public parks and many other recreational facilities.

Also, the city has an excellent credit rating and is served by major state and national highways that make it an important transportation hub.


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