Following significant job losses during the Great Recession, Yoakum, Texas, has experienced steady annual employment growth since the downturn’s official end in 2009. These gains reflect the continued diversification of the area economy, driven in large part by energy-related growth surrounding the Eagle Ford Shale. The city has also retained its legacy as the “Land of Leather”—a nod to its nationally known niche leather and saddle industry—despite losing a substantial portion of the industry. Other assets include new investments in the city’s healthcare network, a historic downtown with good “bones,” the presence of a municipal airport, and a range of development sites unique for a city of its size.
To leverage these assets and address its challenges in attracting and retaining investment, the City of Yoakum and the Yoakum Economic Development Corporation (EDC) engaged TIP Strategies to develop a Business Recruitment & Marketing Strategy. Based on a comprehensive analysis of the surrounding region and insights gained from discussions with stakeholders, TIP identified four sectors—industrial services, healthcare, professional services, and specialty agriculture industries, as well as niches within those industries—as having the greatest potential for growth. Recommendations for recruiting businesses in these targets centered on three narrowly focused areas: cultivating relationships, elevating the Yoakum brand, and enhancing the city’s existing materials and media. In addition to marketing guidance, TIP provided strategies for addressing challenges that could impact Yoakum’s ability to grow its economy and a list of priorities for moving forward. After the plan’s adoption, the City of Yoakum hired a new director of economic development to guide its implementation.