Killeen (TX) – Economic Diversification Strategy
ChallengeFor over 60 years, economic development in Bell, Coryell, and Lampasas Counties has been strongly influenced by the growth and expansion of Fort Hood – the largest active duty armored installation in the United States Armed Services. As the mission and scale of the post has grown and evolved over the years, so has the population and economy of the region. Cities such as Killeen, Copperas Cove, and Harker Heights have benefited economically, socially, and culturally from the thousands of soldiers, civilian contractors, and their families that have lived in the area. TIP Strategies was engaged by the City of Killeen and the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce (administrator of an Office of Economic Adjustment grant) to develop an economic diversification plan for the Fort Hood region. Central components of this plan were developing a mechanism for assessing the skill sets, job preferences, and relocation intentions of both military retirees and those separating from service through Fort Hood; gauging the feasibility and impact of establishing a stand-alone Texas A&M University—Central Texas in Killeen; and identifying new industry clusters for the region to attract and strategies for their development.
ApproachAn assessment of the area’s economic base helped the consulting team understand the opportunities available and identify the most pressing challenges facing the area. The results of this work were refined based on input from city officials and other key stakeholders. To maximize participation in the process, the consulting team conducted individual and group interviews with representatives of industry, retail, transportation, education, economic development, military retirees, city government, and others. The results of the assessment, coupled with information on existing skills sets gathered from a veterans survey, provided the foundation for the design of strategies that will secure the economic vitality of the Fort Hood region for future generations.
The economic impact of the proposed Texas A&M—Central Texas (TAMU-CT) campus was modeled using IMPLAN. In the absence of specific information about the campus, the primary inputs for the model were based on estimates of enrollment and operating expenditures, as well as student and visitor spending, using Tarleton State University in Stephenville and Texas A&M University–Texarkana as benchmarks. The TIP team also explored the research, academic, and economic development potential of establishing a technology research center on the proposed campus to be developed jointly by TAMU-CT, the U.S. Army, and the regional economic development partners.
OutcomeThe resulting plan, Operation Economic Transformation, has served as a guide for the allocation of resources and provided a framework for attracting new investment to the region in the fields of industry, transportation, research, and higher education. Since the plan’s publication, TAMU-CT has been formally established and offers a number of upper level and graduate programs leveraging the region’s economic development assets.