A look ahead to growth, prosperity in 2018
By the Advocate Editorial Board
Dec. 30, 2017 at 4:27 p.m.
Updated Jan. 1, 2018 at 1 a.m.
As we wish 2017 a fond farewell, we look forward to a new year that will bring growth and development to the Crossroads.
As 2017 goes into the history books for Hurricane Harvey and other events, we are looking to 2018 to bring continued economic growth, support for higher education, and help with recovery from Hurricane Harvey.
An improved local economy
The local economy has been on an upswing over the past several months, as sales tax refunds and other economic data have shown.
As this growth continues, we need to continue to look for ways to attract new businesses to the area. We are fortunate to have large industrial plants in the region, such as Formosa Plastics and Dow Chemical, that are expanding and will need additional employees.
Recently a new business, Novus International, announced plans to expand its livestock feed supplement production to the Green Lake area, bringing in 65 new permanent jobs once the facility is operational in 2020. During the construction phase, 600 construction jobs are expected to be created.
The area is also seeing an increase in oil and gas exploration jobs.
This growth and strengthening of the area's retail market is sure to continue to improve.
Support of higher education
With economic growth comes the need for a better educated workforce.
Victoria College's industrial training programs are growing, offering a wider assortment of training to make people more employable.
The college's academic courses also help to raise educational attainment levels in our area, making residents more employable while encouraging local businesses to expand and hire the locally educated workforce.
We need to also continue to support the growth of the University of Houston-Victoria.
It has a lot going on with the construction of a new commons-learning center and dorm. It recently purchased part of the former Town Plaza Mall from Our Lady of Victory Cathedral to expand classes and storage.
The city of Victoria recently agreed to alter part of Ben Wilson Street so the university can use it as an entrance to the growing campus.
UHV president Vic Morgan has been a steady leader of this growth as he has worked to forge these partnerships with the community.
The Victoria school board has a huge job ahead of them this spring as they search for a new superintendent. We are confident the board will be able to find a person with similar strong leadership skills to Robert Jaklich, who will retire at the end of the school year. The new administrator must also be a strong leader who can help the board regroup on the bond proposal and sell it to the community.
A plan to encourage downtown renovation
Victoria has a beautiful downtown district, but it is not being used to its fullest potential. The city, its planners, plus the Main Street program need to work together to develop plans to help downtown live up to its potential. Incentives are needed to keep buildings occupied with viable business and to help restore the life to abandoned buildings. These incentives could be supported with public-private partnerships.
Hurricane relief assistance
As the area continues to recover from Hurricane Harvey, local, state and federal officials must figure out relief efforts and how to best administer them. This needs to be determined sooner rather than later.
People who are trying to repair and rebuild do not deserve to live in limbo as the agencies point fingers at who is supposed to be doing what. They need to agree how to administer assistance and who qualifies for relief and recovery assistance so families can get their lives back together. Living in limbo is not a healthy option.
Nonprofits need support
Our community is full of unsung heroes who work and volunteer with the area's nonprofits.
As most of the nonprofits continue to work in the coming year with Hurricane Harvey recovery, they need the community's support via volunteers and donations of goods and money.
We believe the new year will bring continued growth and much success to the Crossroads.
We wish you, our readers, a happy and successful new year.
This opinion reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.