Lone Star College System (TX) – Economic Assessment / SWOT Analysis
The Challenge.Strong school districts, diverse and high quality housing options, and numerous quality of life amenities have attracted many families to North Harris County. A highly educated workforce and strong workforce development resources serve to draw both talent and employers. Furthermore, the area is strategically situated in the Houston Metro Area with excellent accessibility to major transportation corridors, George Bush Intercontinental Airport, and the Houston Ship Channel.
However, the area faces challenges. Rapid population growth has created traffic and mobility issues. In addition, as new developments have been completed, some of the older neighborhoods and commercial centers have deteriorated both aesthetically and in value, creating areas of blight and, in some cases, high crime. A decline in property values and an increase in lower income families also places stress on school districts. These growth management issues are particularly challenging to this area due to the governance structure that characterizes the area. The majority of the communities in the area lie in unincorporated areas of Harris County. As such, the area has difficulty managing its growth and addressing the related issues because of the jurisdictional complexity and the lack of a unified political voice to advocate for the region at both the local and state levels.
The Approach. Recognizing the need for strategic planning, the LSCS hired TIP to assist in producing a community assessment to inform the region’s economic development efforts. The primary goal for the community assessments was to arrive at a common understanding of the study area’s unique economic strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT). Based on the assessment and SWOT, TIP made recommendations for the study area on how best to organize a formal economic development initiative and provided an economic development toolbox that consists of a series of basic strategies for economic development programs.
The Outcome. The community assessments and toolbox were vital to building an economic development foundation and strategy for north Harris County. The client reports that the documents are regularly referenced and have supported the organization of formal economic development initiatives in the three sub-regions that were the focus of the assessments.