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Economic development forum held in Woodville

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EconomicDevelopment STOCK

By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – The community room of the Wheat Elementary cafeteria in Woodville was the central hub of some brainstorming on Tuesday afternoon.

The event was an economic development forum, which was the result of a partnership between several entities. The end result of the collaborative effort is to hopefully identify the needs of the entire Deep East Texas region.

Tyler County is the first of 12 counties to host one of the forums, which came about as a partnership between  the Stephen F. Austin Center for Applied Research and Rural Innovation (CARRI), the Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG) and the participating counties, themselves.

“Sometimes as adults we forget to dream,” said Kelly Hall, during part of her presentation.

Hall, who works with the Longview Chamber of Commerce, spoke about the need for opportunities in areas such as Tyler County, and had participants supply one-word answers to a variety of questions in order to gauge how they saw the county, in terms of economic viability and what prospects might look like 25 years in the future.

Monica Loa, who works with CARRI, said the intention of the forums is to bring economic ideas and strategies into each of the counties.

“We hope to identify the needs of each county, as well as what resources each one has,” she said.

During brainstorming sessions facilitated by speakers such as Hall, participants such as Tyler County Judge Milton Powers and Woodville City Administrator Mandy Risinger collaborated on conversations identiying resources, such as tourism opportunities and the lush forests of the area, as well as the need for economic sustainability via livable wages for young workers.

“Salaries matter,” Hall said, and said that in her market, starting salaries for fast food employers is $15 per hour.

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