Beyond Silver Bullets
The industrial make up of a region is a critical component of a robust regional economy and labor market. Beyond employment opportunities, local industry plays an essential role in the economic and social development of any community. Temple boasts a wide portfolio of vital businesses and industries. The city’s primary economic development strategy is to maintain strength in existing industries and businesses while helping to recruit industry sectors that will grow and prosper. While there is not one “silver bullet” that will drive the community’s economic growth there are key assets that can help in crafting a prosperous future for Temple.
The demographics of Temple are characterized by a relatively young, growing, and educated population. Since 2005, the Temple area has experienced an incredible population growth, adding roughly 20,344 people. This represents a 22% increase in the local population, compared with 20% growth for the state and 9.0% for the nation. Residents between the ages of 20-44 currently account for over one-third of the population. Additionally, more than 87% of residents age 25 and over are high school graduates, and 22% hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. These demographics create an attractive labor market, which is the most essential asset to economic growth.
For labor markets to work there must be general alignment between workforce characteristics and current industry needs. Temple’s workforce continually diversifies to meet the needs of business and industry. Through an annual assessment, Industries are asked to evaluate the workforce on four areas: availability, quality, stability, and productivity. Business leaders appreciate the above average work ethics, productivity, and stability of the local workforce. And believe the community still provides a selection of qualified candidates that are both skilled and prepared.
When analyzing workforce preparedness it is important to not only evaluate workforce characteristics, but also consider to provide perspective on the educational opportunities available to the local population. All four of the public school districts that comprise the City of Temple met the Texas Education Agency’s standards in student achievement, student progress, closing performance gaps, and postsecondary readiness. The Belton and Temple districts specifically have a framework of Career and Technical Education. Career specialties are grouped into 16 Career Clusters. Each of these 16 clusters is identified by a common set of knowledge and skills that prepares students for a range of workforce opportunities. Additional specialization is achieved through comprehensive Programs of Study aligning academic and technical content in a coordinated, non-duplicative sequence of secondary and post-secondary courses, often leading to an industry-recognized license or certification, or an associate or baccalaureate degree at the post-secondary level.
Secondary education in the region also continues to evaluate the needs of industry and how their curriculum will meet the needs of both industry and careers. Institutions such as Temple College, Central Texas College, McLennan College and Texas State Technical College offer a variety of continuing education programs and classes designed to prepare students for a new career or enhance current workplace skills. Workforce and Corporate Training programs focus on providing customized training and continuing education for business and industry. Customized courses can be completed at the college or conducted on-site.
Every community has its own unique set of assets, networks, and underlying economic culture that determines its success in supporting growth and people. These factors create a dynamic interplay that drives successful growth within a community and ultimately defines the level of prosperity a city can attain. Prosperity is the fundamental goal for all economic development. In the past, prosperity has been described exclusively through economic indicators and a select number of demographic trends. Contemporary views of prosperity provide a much broader accounting of assets that include traditional factors, but also embrace other important locational characteristics.
Gross Domestic Product. Economic growth in a region is often measured by what is known as gross domestic product (GDP). GDP is the total value of goods and services produced during one year in a regional economy. Steady growth in GDP generally signals the direction of overall aggregate economic activity. The Killeen-Temple MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) continues an upward trend in its GDP, with a 6.0% growth rate from 2009 to 2014. According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the GDP for the Killeen-Temple MSA during 2014 gives the region a ranking of 139 out of 366 MSAs across the nation.
Income Growth and Opportunity. Job creation and income growth are important economic indicators of an area’s standard of living. These factors have a direct impact on residents’ quality of life and spending power within the region. The Killeen-Temple MSA experienced job growth of 16.5% from 2005 to 2015, outpacing growth rates at the national level. Similarly, the overall unemployment rate for Temple was 4.4%, a rate lower than the unemployment rate for the United States. Average earnings continued to grow in 2015, increasing 4.0% from 2010 compared to a national growth in average wages of 3.4%.
Positive Business Climate. Temple continues to garner high marks for its business climate, a complex and important component of a city’s economic health and potential. Business climate gives an indication of Temple’s current economic status and its future growth potential. Cities with positive business climates are more likely to attract new businesses and encourage expansion of existing ones, thus promoting local economic growth. Industry leaders appreciate Temple’s quick and nimble responsiveness to local business’s needs.
Quality of Place. Quality of life, livability, and sense of place. Communities across America are striving to define these terms and to bring them to life for their local residents. Quality of place is one of the most important factors in the decisions made by relocating families, professionals, and expanding businesses. Companies in Temple feel that Temple’s commitment to quality of place makes it a desirable community. Excellent schools and healthcare facilities, Lake Belton, geographic location and more than 800 acres of parks are some of the many aspects that contribute to Temple’s quality of place.
Talented, Well-educated Workforce. No issue comes closer to being the “silver bullet” to Temple’s future than workforce talent. In today’s economy, a skilled, educated, flexible workforce is an indispensable ingredient for economic success. While a talented workforce is currently an area of strength for the city of Temple, it would be short-sighted of community leaders to not develop strategies to ensure the talent pipeline continues to meet future industry needs. By partnering with businesses, community colleges, school districts and universities. Temple can ensure a robust and stable workforce well into the future. Temple’s workforce is seen as a positive asset within the community. The fact that a large number of highly skilled men and women transitioning out of the military every month from Fort Hood has become a competitive advantage for the community. Increased economic diversity has led to a growing population of highly skilled and motivated individuals working and living in the Killeen/Temple Metropolitan Area. Cities like Temple with a skilled workforce offer both new and expanding businesses easy access to talented people.
Strong Local Economy. Strong local economies are the foundation of strong communities that can grow and withstand the pressures created by an increasingly globalized world. The strength of Temple’s economy positively affects business efforts. In addition to having multiple industry sectors in the area, the community enjoys a blend of older established industries and new and emerging businesses. This translates into a robust local economy with adequate resources available for area businesses to grow and prosper.
Every community has its own unique set of assets, networks, and underlying economic culture that determines its success in supporting growth and people. These factors create a dynamic interplay that drives successful growth within a community and ultimately defines the level of prosperity a city can attain. Business, educational and community leaders realize that it will take attention and commitment to many aspects of Temple and our region to insure continued growth and prosperity. The growth of Temple cannot be defined by a “silver bullet” and neither will its future.