The Midlothian City Council, 4A and 4B tax boards received a presentation from Garner Economics LLC for economic development and site location consultant services at a joint meeting Tuesday, Aug. 17.
Midlothian Economic Development President/CEO Larry Barnett explained that previously the council and both boards had agreed that as the city reviews and updates its Master Plan, the key missing component – an economic development strategy – would be a major focus at this time.
City Manager Don Hastings explained that the past city council opted not to include an economic development component to the original Master Plan because of the cost of doing so.
“We intentionally did not do an economic development strategy with the original Master Plan because of the cost of doing so,” Hastings said. “I believe this should dove tail well into our update of the Master Plan as this time we will have a strong focus on economic development.”
MED (4A) Board member Shawn Yarbrough explained that the board had put out a request for proposal in July asking for economic consultants.
“We had a good response with eight firms,” Yarbrough said. “The selection committee of three 4A and three 4B members filled out an objective scoring matrix for each applicant. After narrowing the eight down to the top three we conducted interviews in August. All three met our qualifications, but Garner Economics definitely came out on top.”
Barnett introduced President/CEO of Garner Economics Jay Garner, noting his 33 years experience as an award-winning economic development CEO and founding member of the Site Selectors Guild.
Garner presented the company's philosophy, experience, process results, and its preliminary analysis of Midlothian.
“Garner Economics is a corporate site location advisory specializing in food and beverage industries and general manufacturing,” Garner said. “We take a creative, innovative yet pragmatic approach. We are client-oriented taking, and we create actionable strategies that you can implement to achieve your goals.”
He then presented his team's “homework” on Midlothian comparing it with Texas and the Metroplex by its business profile, population growth and demographics, employment earnings, post recession industry gains, retail sales and geographical (zip code) data.
Garner also explained his company's economic development strategy planning process, saying that it is divided into three phases – discovery, strategy and implementation.
“We start by researching and evaluating Midlothian's economic development position, and generally find out what sets you apart,” he said, explaining that this would include surveys of the public and meetings with focus groups.
All of this information would be used to create short and long term strategies, with targets on which industries and businesses to pursue and how to market Midlothian. The plan would also illustrate how to sustain, grow and move the city into a competitive advantage. The last phase would be to set the city's leaders, staff and workforce on the path to achieve these goals.
This whole process would take about 20 weeks at a total cost of $120,000. Garner Economics would conclude with a written final report, public presentation to the community and profile that Midlothian could distribute to prospective companies.
After presenting testimonials from past clients, Garner accepted questions and comments from the council members.
“I think this is exactly what we need right at the edge of updating economic development,” Mayor Bill Houston said.
Tami Tobey with the Midlothian Community Development Corporation (4B) Board said this would help the 4B know how to use its funds as efficiently as possible to develop the quality of life that residents desire.
“This will show us what we reasonably can and should be going after,” Council member Jimmie McClure said. “There are a lot of ideas out there of what Midlothian should be.”
Barnett said this would give him critical focus and give him a direction to take Midlothian's economic development.
The 4A and 4B boards anticipate bringing an agenda item to approve Garner Economics LLC for consultant services at Midlothian's next city council meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 24.