We Are Rural: Cultivating, Innovating, Collaborating! That was the theme of the 26th Annual Texas Midwest Conference held on October 30th at the McNease Convention Center in San Angelo. Timely solution seminars provided city leaders, economic development professionals, chamber representatives and high school students with information to better prepare for challenges member communities face today and in the future.
The Conference Keynote was Julian Alvarez III, Commissioner of Labor with the Texas Workforce Commission. Commissioner Alvarez shared data on the current labor market in Texas and the Texas Midwest region as well as insights into the diverse programs available through the TWC to afford rural students and employers the opportunity to build successful careers and businesses.
A number of regional and statewide experts provided information into some of the most challenging community aspects facing small communities today – broadband accessibility, housing, workforce development and training, career focused education, code enforcement and blight removal, lead generation and entrepreneurial development. Additional breakouts took a closer look at tourism and marketing through the lens of community art and film and music friendly community designations.
The Awards Luncheon included the recognition of the original steering committee of communities who gave birth to the TMCN organization: Abilene, Albany, Anson, Breckenridge, Brownwood, Coleman, Haskell, Merkel, Munday, Sweetwater and Winters. Program facilitators Kevin Tutt and Mike Daggs of Tutt & Daggs recognized the community projects completed by the 2019 Leadership TMCN Class and assisted in the presentation of scholarships to the top three projects – Snyder, Baird and Anson. Additional projects included students from the communities of Breckenridge, Early, Gorman, Haskell, and Munday.
The Texas Midwest Community Network is the only regional organization of its kind in the state and the Annual Conference is the only one-day event in the region providing access to numerous agencies, organizations and businesses that provide resources and services to small communities. The most valuable aspect of the conference was the networking among the organization’s fifty-one community representatives as they shared successes as well as the best practices used to overcome local challenges.
Attendance at the conference was open to all community leaders including city and county officials, economic development practitioners and board members, chamber of commerce representatives and their members, civic volunteers, healthcare professionals, school officials and high school students.