“I don’t know of another time in Tyler’s history that so many of its elected boards held a joint meeting to adopt a single measure,” Mayor Barbara Bass said in a prepared statement. “This level of support demonstrated the need for the entire community to speak with one voice and work cooperatively for the sake of Tyler’s economic future.”
The idea for the Initiative came from talks the mayor held with one of her predecessors, state Sen. Kevin Eltife. That was in 2009; the recession had hit Tyler hard. What could be done?
So the mayor’s Leadership Roundtable privately commissioned and funded the 84-page Industry Growth Initiative to find ways to ease the pain of the economic downturn — with strategic, innovative tactics to create higher paying jobs, economic growth, job creation and a higher standard of living.
Participants in the planning process included the Tyler City Council, Smith County Commissioners Court, Tyler Independent School District, Tyler Junior College, the Tyler Metro Chamber of Commerce and the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce, The University of Texas at Tyler, UT Health Science Center, Texas College, East Texas Medical Center Regional Healthcare System, Tyler Economic Development Council and Trinity Mother Frances Hospitals and Clinics, to name a few.
That’s a community coming together for the common good.
Eltife adds that Tyler could be a model for other cities and regions.
“Look, we know that cities don’t just stand still,” he says. “You’re either planning for the future and you’re moving ahead, or you’re falling behind. Our goal is to make Tyler a better place for our citizens and our families, long into the future.”
Are there still challenges? Of course. Unemployment, even in Tyler, remains at painful levels. Our schools have facilities needs and disappointing educational attainment numbers. There’s plenty more work left to be done.
We need to celebrate the things we’re doing well, but we also need to be vigilant about the things we need to improve. And the way to do that is to continue to channel the collective wisdom of our community toward the best outcomes.