For over 60 years, economic development in the area surrounding Killeen, Texas, has been strongly influenced by the growth and expansion of Fort Hood, the largest active duty armored installation in the US Armed Services. Cities in the region have benefited economically, socially, and culturally from the thousands of soldiers, civilian contractors, and their families that have been drawn to the area. However, following multiple rounds of the federal Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process in the early 2000s, regional leaders saw value in pursuing an economic diversification strategy to help reduce dependence on the military while leveraging associated growth opportunities.
TIP Strategies was engaged by the City of Killeen and the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce under an Office of Economic Adjustment grant to develop an economic diversification plan for the Fort Hood region. In addition to an extensive quantitative analysis and stakeholder input process, TIP worked closely with the community and Fort Hood officials to put in place a mechanism for assessing the skill sets, job preferences, and relocation intentions of both military retirees and those separating from service through Fort Hood. Other essential components of the plan, titled Operation Economic Transformation, included gauging the feasibility and economic impact of establishing Texas A&M University–Central Texas (TAMU–CT) in Killeen and identifying and developing new industry clusters for the region. Since the plan’s publication, TAMU-CT has been formally established and offers a number of upper-level and graduate programs aligned with regional assets. The Veterans’ Inventory initiative has continued to provide valuable information to support regional economic development organizations in their recruitment efforts. Furthermore, the plan’s three goals, which centered on talent, innovation and place, provided an important organizing framework for the region for nearly a decade.