Like many rural areas in the nation, Bee County, Texas, faces critical demographic challenges related to population growth and domestic migration. Population growth in the county over the last decade has remained flat, with a net gain of just 800 residents from 2006 to 2016. In addition, the county experienced a net loss of residents to domestic migration for three out of five years analyzed. Beyond demographic statistics, employers report difficulty in retaining and attracting skilled workers, especially young professionals. While this situation is not unique to Bee County, the problem is often more challenging in rural areas that have fewer amenities and career opportunities than large metro areas.
In 2017, the Bee Development Authority in collaboration with Bee County, the City of Beeville, and Coastal Bend College, engaged Tracye McDaniel (as CEO and founder of McDaniel Strategy Ecosystems) and TIP Strategies to prepare a strategic plan to guide the county’s growth over the next five years. The resulting plan—One County. One Vision.—was structured around three goals, five target industries, and five measurable outcomes designed to foster increased private sector investment, business development, and job creation in Bee County. The plan called for the creation of an independent public-private partnership to lead the county’s efforts and to present a coordinated voice for economic development in the county. In addition, this new entity would strengthen relationships with the academic and business community to ensure that area skills development and training aligned with employment opportunities.