Those looking for a glimpse into the economic forecast for 2017 may join the B/CS Chamber of Commerce when it gathers local and national experts at the annual Economic Outlook Conference in January. Through speakers and panels, the local business landscape will be discussed as the Brazos Valley looks to the future. The conference will be held Jan. 25 beginning with an informal Coffee With the Mayors at 7am. The conference opens at 7:30am with registration and breakfast with the conference ending at 2pm. Glenn Hegar, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, will give the keynote address during lunch.
Economic Outlook Conference: Unity in Community
January 25, Hilton College Station
7am | Coffee With the Mayors
Sponsored by Hilton College Station
Informal meet and greet with College Station Mayor Karl Mooney and Bryan Mayor Andrew Nelson
7:30am | Registration & Breakfast
Sponsored by Texas Commercial Waste
8am | Welcome
Title Sponsor Wells Fargo
Glen Brewer, President & CEO B/CS Chamber of Commerce
8:15am | Session I
Sponsored by Texas A&M University
We Are the Research Valley
Todd McDaniel, Research Valley Partnership
Joint presentation by College Station and Bryan Independent School Districts
-Clark Ealy, CSISD Superintendent
-Tim Rocka, BISD Interim Superintendent
9 a.m. | Break
Sponsored by CHI St. Joseph Health Systems
9:15 a.m. | Session II
Sponsored by Bryan Texas Utilities
Views from the Cities
Joint presentation by cities of Bryan and College Station
-Joey Dunn, Bryan Deputy City Manager
-Kelly Templin, College Station City Manager
Other Community Voices
-Brazos County, Judge Duane Peters
-Texas A&M University, TBA
10:30 a.m. | Break
Sponsored by Aggieland Carpet One
10:45 a.m. | Session III
Sponsored by The Law Office of Shane Phelps, P.C.
Rising Optimism — Awaiting Reality
Dr. James Gaines, Chief Economist for the Texas Real Estate Center, Texas A&M University
12 noon | Invocation followed by lunch
Sponsored by Guaranty Bank & Trust
12:15 p.m. | Keynote Speaker
Texas’ Chief Financial Officer
-Glenn Hegar, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
The Economic Outlook Conference is open to the public. Advance registration is $85 per person for B/CS Chamber of Commerce members; tickets are $100 per person for non-members. Reserved tables of eight are available for $750. Seating is limited. To reserve space, visit www.bcschamber.org, call Kim at (979) 260-5200, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
College Station Mayor
In 1989, Karl Mooney moved to College Station from his home state of New Jersey, and he has been heavily involved in the community ever since. He has served on the Planning and Zoning Commission, the Transportation and Mobility committee, and the Economic Development committee, as well as serving for six years on the city council. In November, Mooney was elected mayor of College Station. Outside of city government, Mooney works with Texas A&M University as director of General Academic Programs Advising.
Coming from a background of urban planning, Mooney sees development and infrastructure as some of the biggest issues the city faces. College Station is expanding, and Mooney’s goal is to try to limit its growing pains.
“We have traffic; everyone complains about the traffic,” says Mooney. “Then we have infrastructure. Especially on Northgate and around that area, what you don’t see underneath the road and the ground is the limited amount of piping and electric lines.”
The community itself has changed over the years, says Mooney. In some neighborhoods where only two-bedroom houses existed there are now four-bedroom houses being built. This reflects both an expanding population and an increasing age range. Mooney says the city is looking at developing a community center that appeals to all ages, as well as a new community pool since the last city pool was built in 1993.
The mayor’s vision includes the city tackling public safety, particularly through a reinvigoration of neighborhood watches and citizen participation in keeping the city safe.
“One of the things we need to do is work with our police, and not only the police here, but also the university,” says Mooney.
Andrew Nelson has been a part of the Bryan College Station community for most of his life. He attended Texas A&M University and studied mechanical engineering, graduating Cum Laude in 1992. He’s raised his family in Bryan and also built his business into a globe-spanning company.
Nelson has worn many hats in his time in Bryan. He is a board member of the Bryan Rotary Club, has spent five years on the Bryan Business Council, a year on the city’s Comprehensive Planning Committee, volunteers at his church and with the Boy and Girl Scouts of America, among others. He is now also Bryan’s mayor.
“I love serving; I have a passion for service,” Nelson says. “I love Bryan, and feel bringing a business perspective to the strategy for the city with 900 employees and a $400 million budget is very important to moving the city forward.”
As mayor, Nelson wants to see the city become a place where recent graduates can come to start their lives and raise their families, much how he did. To do this, he says that the city needs to work hard on renovating its infrastructure and expanding its workforce. Nelson’s goal is to keep taxes low while invigorating Bryan.
“I want to be the mayor that helps Downtown Bryan to move from having a First Friday to just ‘Friday,’” says Nelson. “I want every day in Bryan to be like First Friday.”
Nelson says that Bryan is connected to Texas A&M much in the same way as College Station. In addition to supporting the university’s growth, Nelson says he wants Bryan to support and expand its workforce through trade schools, encouraging education and entrepreneurship, and finding ways to create jobs.
“We want those entrepreneurs to stay here. We need to give them a community where the 22-32 age range can start their lives and find a sense of place.”
Chief Economist, The Real Estate Center, Texas A&M University
Jim Gaines is well known for providing a torrent of statistics to back up the real estate economist’s straight talk about trends in local, state, and national market growth. Making his eighth appearance at the Economic Outlook Conference, Gaines says one of the key things he will be talking about in the first quarter of 2017 is “rising optimism — awaiting reality.”
Gaines explains: “The economy reflects the feelings and anticipation of the market. A number of economic indicators, such as the stock market and manufacturing have been up, although manufacturing is still not a big thing. Main street anticipation is that the new administration is going to be more pro business with a decrease in regulatory burdens, lower corporate taxes, and otherwise be more helpful to business.
“My take on all of this — even with the administration and congress trying to move in these directions — it will probably take a year or two for real significant changes to take impact.
“My last take on it, no matter what, is the reality may not live up to the expectations for everyone,” adds Gaines.
Locally, Gaines says he hopes a slowdown in growth won’t greatly affect Texas A&M University’s budget coming out of the legislature. “In Bryan College Station, growth for most of the past several years has been frenetic,” says Gaines. “No market this size can go at that pace all the time.”
Even statewide, the slowdown hasn’t been as bad as what some thought it might be, adds Gaines. “Oil’s collapse was bigger percentagewise than the drop during the Eighties. What we’re seeing is a lot more resiliency around the state of being more diversified.”
Overall, Gaines says 2017 is going to be a very good year in the Brazos Valley, maybe not quite as strong as 2014, 2015 and 2016, but strong nevertheless…assuming the university doesn’t have draconian budget cuts.
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
In his role as Texas’ chief financial officer – the state’s treasurer, check writer, tax collector, procurement officer and revenue estimator – Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Glenn Hegar has an overview of the economic drivers and challenges ahead in 2017. Hegar will be sharing insights from that perspective as the keynote speaker for the Bryan College Station Chamber of Commerce Economic Outlook Conference on Jan. 25.
Texas is the world’s 10th largest economy, notes Hegar, and while last year’s downturn in the mining and oil and gas industries has affected Texas’ economy overall, Texas has continued to gain jobs overall. In particular, the economy in Bryan College Station has continued to perform well.
As Hegar’s office prepares the revenue forecast for the upcoming Texas legislative session, Hegar says he will be able to address the expected growth rate overall over the next two-year cycle. Locally, he points to the presence of Texas A&M University as an economic stabilizer for the local economy, a resource of many “hidden gems” that contribute economic stimulus locally.
Hegar says the keynote address in January will be an opportunity to hear about not only local indicators, but also the ways that Texas, statewide, is a great economic opportunity.
Elected in November 2014, Hegar is a sixth-generation Texan, who grew up farming land that has been in his family since the mid-1800s. Before becoming Comptroller, Hegar served in the Texas House of Representatives and the Texas Senate, and also served as chair of the Sunset Advisory Commission, which works to eliminate inefficiency in government agencies. Hegar attended Texas A&M as an undergraduate, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts. He then attended St. Mary’s University, earning a Master of Arts and his law degree. At the University of Arkansas, he earned a Master of Laws degree. Glenn and his wife Dara have three young children — Julia, Jonah and Claire.
Visit www.bcschamber.org for conference registration information.