Envision Central Texas – Economic Impact & Market Analysis
ChallengeRecent years have brought unprecedented growth to the Central Texas region. The population of the Austin-San Marcos metropolitan area—comprised of Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson Counties—currently surpasses 1.4 million and is expected to exceed 2.5 million within the next several decades. With this fact in mind, Envision Central Texas, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization created in 2001, engaged citizens in one of the largest conversations ever to occur in Texas about how to shape future growth. Their input and ideas formed the basis of the Vision for Central Texas which calls for the region to provide multiple options for transportation and housing, create compact walkable communities in key nodes, preserve open spaces and provide recreation opportunities, and maintain a strong emphasis on social equity and preservation of the region’s unique character and history.
ApproachThe regional visioning process was conducted by a multi-disciplinary team led by Fregonese Associates (formerly Fregonese Calthorpe Associates). The team employed a scenario modeling process to provide a tool for exploring trade-offs between different growth patterns. Using input gathered during public workshops held in late 2002, the team developed a set of four possible growth scenarios which outlined how and where growth might occur throughout the Central Texas region. TIP performed the market analysis that contributed to the development of the scenarios and prepared an analysis of the impacts of the scenarios from both a fiscal and policy perspective. The four scenarios were then submitted for additional citizen input which formed the basis of the resulting vision statement. The vision developed through the ECT scenario modeling process can be used as the communities of the region continue to develop locally appropriate detailed plans.
OutcomeThe project raised awareness and helped influence development patterns in the region. To mark the five-year milestone, the ECT board engaged TIP to conduct a review of “progress-on-goals” in 2008. To accomplish this task, TIP conducted a detailed series of interviews with local businesses, institutions, and public officials to gauge their understanding of how well the region is meeting the demands of its continued growth. These interviews were supplemented by stakeholder focus groups, a series of public workshops, and three on-line questionnaires. Results of the progress assessment informed the organization’s ongoing work in the region.