Executive Director Shawn Kirkpatrick gave an enlightening talk on the Bastrop Economic Development Corporation’s mission and some current projects at a Bastrop Chamber of Commerce in early November. Kirkpatrick said the greatest amount of BEDC resources are committed to ‘Type A’ businesses , which he listed as biotechnology and life sciences, manufacturing, IT and computer technology, hospitality and retail, and ‘targets of opportunity’. He said the focus is on the attraction, retention and expansion of those businesses.
Kirkpatrick spoke about the “competitive nature of our clients’ business(es).” He said the BEDC is committed to protecting clients’ confidentiality until those businesses either give the okay to release appropriate information, or the BEDC is legally required to release information under open-meetings/public information law.
Some further businesses which Kirkpatrick listed as “Type B” are also an important part of BEDC interest/recruitment efforts. He listed those categories as retail recruiting, small business development and entrepreneurialism, and business retention/expansion. He said that currently there are “some good prospects” for bringing those types of businesses to Bastrop, and that some are already in “the pipeline” for the community. Kirkpatrick also spoke on other subjects, including the importance of affordable housing, education and workforce development, finance, and governance.
Kirkpatrick described the Bastrop area as “the shopping hub” for the Hwy. 71 (East) corridor. When he quizzed the audience as to where the closest H-E-B is on Hwy. 71 (after Bastrop’s H-E-B), the audience seemed stumped. He said it was in East Austin, on Riverside Drive – the point being that Bastrop’s H-E-B and shopping centers such Burleson Crossing act as magnet stores, attracting customers from a large radius expanding outward from Bastrop and the county.
Kirkpatrick also talked about incentives sometimes given by governmental entities – for example, cities and counties – to entice businesses to establish a business in their locale. He said it was crucial the incentives given are balanced against the return on investment for the particular taxing entities who initially gave the incentives to attract businesses to an area. “We’re looking at a three to five-year return on incentive,” he said. Examples of incentives could include land, utility extensions or just help “moving equipment down here. Not every company needs free land,” Kirkpatrick said.
Kirkpatrick said he has forged a strong relationship with Bastrop Main Street and the Bastrop Chamber of Commerce, complimenting Main Street Director Sarah O’Brien and Bastrop Chamber of Commerce president Becki Womble.