Signs promoting the work of Van Alstyne Community & Economic Development may soon be popping up around the city.
While the logo may be new, the organization is actually a combination of two long-established municipal groups.
Earlier this year, the Van Alstyne City Council voted to create one board to oversee both the city’s Community Development Corporation and Economic Development Corporation. Last week, the new board held its first official meeting.
"Hopefully we put it all under one umbrella and it helps people understand what we do a little better," Director Rodney Williams said. "It also helps people and companies get to us a little better."
In 1997, Van Alstyne voters approved the creation of both a Community Development Corporation (CDC) and an Economic Development Corporation (EDC). Per state law, the different entities each must adhere to specific guidelines.
The CDC’s mission is to promote commercial and retail development as well as parks and other quality of life projects. The EDC is geared more toward industrial and manufacturing growth.
Oftentimes the goals of both organizations overlap.
Having separate boards made it difficult for the two groups to collaborate. Additionally, the CDC had a full-time paid staff while that EDC had to make do only with volunteers.
"We were going for the same things, but we couldn’t communicate, and we couldn’t work together," Williams said. "It wasn’t that we didn’t want to. It’s just that it was impossible to the way it was set up."
Under the new arrangement, the entities remain separate on paper, but can now collaborate and streamline processes.
Williams, who previously oversaw the CDC, now works full time for both corporations. The same is true for executive administrator Tiffany Chartier.
Another benefit is that the board is now made up of a combination of people from both of the city’s economic organizations.
People who worked with the CDC on efforts to lure John Deere to town can apply that experience to projects like the city’s recently expanded industrial park. Likewise, members who previously worked on the EDC can lend their expertise and experience to additional development efforts.
"It’s a fantastic board," Williams said. "We’ve got great community leaders. There’s a lot of expertise there."
Now the task turns to doing all it can to grow the local economy.
According to Williams, calls from businesses inquiring about the city slowed down some in the spring. However, the majority of industrial projects continued to move forward.
Since the start of summer, business interest in the city has picked up again.
"I’m surprised that companies are still pressing forward, but it’s a pleasant surprise," he said.