Tyler City leaders, planner receive their awards
BY JACQUE HILBURN-SIMMONSjsimmons@tylerpaper.com
Tyler city leaders officially accepted the Community of the Year award Wednesday and recognized City Planner Heather Nick as the newest recipient of the President's Award, honors given by the American Planning Association-Texas Chapter.
The recipients were highlighted earlier this month during the group's annual conference in Fort Worth and awarded officially during the Tyler City Council meeting.
"It's a great honor for Tyler and for Texas," Chapter President Renae Ollie said, noting the city was selected from a pool of about 4,500 other communities.
The awards program recognizes individuals, organizations and communities for outstanding contributions to planning for Texas' growth.
Tyler is being recognized for its Industry Growth Initiative plan, launched in 2010 as a cooperative effort between city leaders and several community boards, officials said.
"This award is significant," Mayor Barbara Bass said, noting the Industry Growth Initiative is important for many reasons, including job creation.
She praised the countless hours and effort that went into the plan's creation.
Ms. Ollie also recognized Ms. Nick, who aided the chapter with improving its social media presence.
The organization went from traditional and email communications to a new updated website, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
"When Heather came on board, she had such enthusiasm," Ms. Ollie said. "She was a lifesaver to me. ... Snail mail wasn't the way to go anymore."
Mayor Bass added, "The success of this community is its people and Heather is a shining example of that."
The idea to create the 84-page Industry Growth Initiative was hatched in 2009 during talks between the mayor and state Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, who sought assistance from local elected and appointed leaders to develop innovative tactics to create higher-paying jobs and spur economic growth.
Participants in the planning process represent 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.