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