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City Council to strenghten economic ties to A&M

Published: Monday, September 9, 2013

Updated: Monday, September 9, 2013 23:09

The College Station City Council will consider the implementation of an Economic Development Master Plan on Thursday, which will promote a mentality of partnering with Texas A&M to maximize economic benefits for College Station residents.

Thursday’s meeting, at College Station City Hall, will include a public hearing to solicit any input from residents.

City Council members have established six broad initiatives in the proposed plan: sustain and enhance high quality of life, support and partner with the Texas A&M University System, support retail development, support and stimulate biotechnology research and advanced manufacturing, support the health and wellness market and support the sports, entertainment and
hospitality market.

Randall Heye, economic development analyst for College Station, said the economic plan marks a new initiative in which the City Council intends to advocate on behalf of the University at the local, state and federal level and engage in frequent conversation with University officials to fully develop this renewed connection.

Heye said the plan would promote a
positive relationship between students off campus and in the neighborhoods they live, as well as seek partnership with the University on economic development initiatives that will bring high-paying jobs and visitors to the community.

“We will continue to recognize the significance of Texas A&M to the economy and we will ensure that it remains a strong and viable entity,” Heye said. “We will partner where mutual economic benefits will be realized.”

Will Pittman, senior political science major and vice president of community relationships for Student Government Association, said the relationship between Texas A&M and the city of College Station has been strained in the past due to the exponential increase in students and the residential problems that have accompanied this increase, including noise complaints.

“One thing that we’re seeing is that the University is growing at such a rapid pace, and that I think is what makes it so hard for the city to connect with it,” Pittman said. “There used to be such a strong relationship between the students and the community.”

Pittman said Texas A&M officials have met with several City Council members to discuss the plan and there has already been a significant improvement in the partnership.

“I believe the University will definitely benefit from the plan,” Pittman said. “The City Council is making a huge point of including the University and it can really only go up from here.”

Bob Cowell, director of planning and development for College Station, said the Economic Development Master Plan has not been the city’s only attempt to reconnect with the University.

“The recent partnerships to advance the BioCorridor and the expansion of Kyle Field are just two of these examples,” Cowell said. “The city and A&M have achieved numerous accomplishments together recently that would not have been possible just a few years ago.”

Pittman said he expects to see a much stronger bond between the University and College Station once the Economic Development Master Plan is implemented.

Pittman said part of this stronger bond would hinge on monthly meetings between SGA members and College Station officials.

“We’re even trying to get a committee together to meet once a month with the City Council to maintain this growing relationship,” Pittman said. “The mayor has even expressed interest in attending. I think we have been given a huge opportunity to rebuild our relationship with the community and I’m excited to see how this turns out.”


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