SHARE
Welcome to BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE: BIG SANDY. As President of the Municipal Development District Board Don Cochran and the board wanted to start the 2019 year off strong and identify growth opportunities for the City of Big Sandy. Photos by Mr. Alan Roberts, AIA, Alan R Photography.

Municipal Development District identifies growth opportunities for Big Sandy

By Kate Kirby
Community members and leaders joined together Tuesday evening January, 29 at the Heritage Center downtown to talk about the future of Big Sandy. The Big Sandy Municipal Development District (MDD) was the host of the event, with assistance from Consultant Debbie Wood.

Guest speakers for the event included Larry McManus, Senior Director of Economic Development for the TX Dept. of Agriculture; David Cleveland, Executive Director of the East Texas Council of Governments; and Janie Havel, North Texas Regional Representative from Governor Abbott’s Office of Economic Development & Tourism.

MDD President, Don Cochran gave an overview of 5 areas the city has determined as a focus for growth, which include:

  • Expansion of the Big Sandy Business Park,
  • Attracting developers to build 2 bedroom apartment housing,
  • Recruiting a doctor and staff that work with Medicare to set up office,
  • Activities for youth, including use of the facility at the former Church of Christ Building in Big Sandy that has a gym and a full service kitchen
  • Attracting a Starbucks-like coffee shop (or other sustainable “mom & pop” retail, per further discussion with Consultant Debbie Wood)
Speaker: Larry McManus, Senior Director for Rural Economic Development, Trade & Business Development, Texas Department of Agriculture

The bulk of the presentation was from Larry McManus from the Texas Department of Agriculture, who reviewed the impact of agriculture in our rural economy and highlighted several opportunities for grant funding and assistance available through his agency.

Speaker: David Cleveland, Executive Director, East Texas Council of Governments

David Cleveland, Executive Director of East Texas Council of Governments, spoke about opportunities with their broadband initiative, workforce assistance, grant finding services for public and private entities, and how he has been working to help Big Sandy get a caboose from the railroad that can serve as an attraction for Big Sandy, at the request of the City.

Speaker: Janie Havel, Office of Governor Abbott, Economic Development & Tourism, North Texas Regional Representative

Janie Havel introduced her area of expertise and offered personal assistance with tourism programs.

Rick Peterson, Mayor’s Advisory Committee, Councilman Rex Rozell, Laura Rex, City Secretary, , Councilman Andrew McIver, Councilman Don Cochran, Councilman Becky Desborough, David Cleveland, Executive Director, East Texas Council of Governments, Upshur County Commissioner Paula Gentry, Upshur County Commissioner Frank Berka, Debbie Wood, Debbie Wood & Associates, Janie Havel, Office of Governor Abbott, Economic Development & Tourism, North Texas Regional Representative and Larry McManus, Senior Director for Rural Economic Development, Trade & Business Development, Texas Department of Agriculture and Mayor Sonny Parsons
Upshur County Sheriff Larry Webb, Councilman Rex Rozell, Councilman Becky Desborough, Councilman Andrew McIver, Councilman Don Cochran and Big Sandy Volunteer Fire Chief Jeff Jones, Colonel Marv Behr, Director, International ALERT Academy, Dwight Fredrickson, PhD, Chief Financial Officer for Institute in Basic Life Principles, Advance Training Institute, David Waller, Administrative Director, Advanced Training Institute, Tim Levendusky, PhD, President, Institute in Basic Life Principles, Advance Training Institute and Mayor Sonny Parsons
Big Sandy Housing Authority Board: Douglas Strub, Executive Director, William Stenger, PhD, David Fonteno, PhD, David Cleveland, Executive Director, East Texas Council of Governments, Janie Havel, Office of Governor Abbott, Economic Development & Tourism, North Texas Regional Representative, Carla Lucas, Operations Manager, First National Bank, Larry McManus, Senior Director for Rural Economic Development, Trade & Business Development, Texas Department of Agriculture and Derrick Menefee, myDLM Media Solutions
Sally Allen, Director of Business Development, Strategic Fulfillment Group, Tony Pytlak, President/COO, Strategic Fulfillment Group, Councilman Don Cochran and Mayor Sonny Parsons
Mayor Sonny Parsons, Councilman Don Cochran, Gilmer City Manager Greg Hutson, Gary Traylor, Traylor & Associates Inc. and Tom Mullins, President/CEO Tyler Economic Development Council, Inc. and Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce

Debbie Wood, who has been contracted by the MDD to assist with revitalization efforts, informed the crowd that she has made inroads with her contacts at UT Health who are helping in the search for a Doctor to fit Big Sandy’s needs. Additionally, Wood stressed the need for the City to work together as a team to build the future of Big Sandy.