Progress Report

Regional Diversity

The Texoma region is diverse in many aspects as activity is analyzed from every corner of Cooke, Fannin, and Grayson Counties. The 2007-2012 Texoma CEDS highlights challenges of an economy in transition and notes the integral role of economic development in a region with relatively slow, but positive, population growth rates. Prioritized projects and activities will enhance the existing workforce and quality of life through workforce development, affordable housing and tourism.

The 2007-2012 CEDS discusses a number of projects and areas of the tri-county economy identified by the economic development advisory committee. The plan acknowledges the need for economic development in a region with a slow population growth rate and identifies activities that primarily enhance the existing workforce and quality of life by recommending more affordable housing and job skills/ vocational training at local post secondary institutions. A basic analysis of major industry in the region tells a tale of decline in manufacturing and growth in the service and retail trade industries, that may play a part in declining earnings.

Ongoing Regional Projects

Texoma Regional Tourism Marketing

Texoma Council of Governments and residents of the Texoma region have a strong connection with South Central Oklahoma through the natural movement of human and physical capital. The regions share a common labor shed, retail market, and cultural economies, making bi-state relationships necessary for positive economic outcomes in our communities. Lake Texoma may be the single greatest asset in southern Oklahoma and northern Texas, yet there is no comprehensive or unified approach to either protecting it for future generations or marketing it as an economic development resource. In April of 2009, the Texoma Regional Consortium hosted the Texoma Lake Development Symposium in which more than 200 people came together to begin discussing these issues.There was considerable agreement that Lake Texoma has the potential to anchor a brand for the region that promotes significant economic activity in Texas and Oklahoma. Thoughtful development of this resource can contribute to a strong economic future by improving the “quality of place” that attracts and keeps young professionals and entrepreneurs in the region. While there is a tremendous amount of work to be done in the long term to ensure that the potential of Lake Texoma is fully realized, the overwhelming opinion was that a marketing plan is the first achievable step.

Texoma Council of Governments (TCOG) was asked to take the lead on this project with a particular emphasis on identifying potential funding sources and coordinating the activities of a Steering Committee. Stakerholders, including the Choctaw Nation, Chickasaw Nation, the City of Sherman, the City of Denison, the City of Durant, the City of Gainesville, SOSU Center for Regional Economic Development, North Texas Regional Airport, Private Developers, Southern Oklahoma Development Association, and Workforce Solutions Texoma, have elected to financially sponsor the development of a regional-wide, umbrella brand to drive attention to the region and market the virtues of the region’s assets that we all share.

Center for Workplace Learning

In 2003, the Center for Workplace Learning at Grayson College received a Public Works, Economic Adjustment Infrastructure Investments by EDA. Grayson College was the recipient for a $1,700,000 public works investment ($1,000,000 EDA investment and $700,000 applicant investment). To date, this successful project has created 1268 jobs and 1175 existing jobs have been retained for a total of 2443 jobs created and retained.

Grayson College, Fannin Campus

Grayson College was awarded an EDA Economic Adjustment grant in August of 2009 to partially fund the construction of a permanent building in Fannin County. The $2 million matching grant will help Grayson College replace their extension site in Bonham with a new facility, the Rayburn Center, which will house regional business and industrial one stop workforce training and education for Fannin County. The Rayburn Center has been designed as a regional center for advancing economic productivity and viability with the creation of a regional one-stop location for local business incubation and instruction in advanced techniques and processes of management, manufacturing, assembly, workforce training and retention, and competition. The Rayburn Center will be located on 100 acres of donated land on U.S. Highway 82.

In order to raise the $2 million in matching funds required of the EDA grant, Grayson College is in the process of annexing Fannin County in their taxing district. Fannin County residents currently pay out of district rates when they register for Grayson College classes. Should annexation be approved, Fannin County, voters will decide on May 8, 2010 whether or not they approve paying the same tax rate currently being paid by Grayson County taxpayers in exchange for a break in tuition rates and the construction of a permanent Grayson College facility in Bonham.

Other achievements in Economic Development

North Texas Regional Airport (NTRA)

Over the last few years the North Texas Regional Airport (NTRA) has positioned itself to be the region’s center of aviation travel and training with hopes of attracting economic activity from the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, only sixty miles to the south. As part of a multi-jurisdiction collaborative effort, NTRA has developed a marketing strategy for its hundreds of shovel ready acres of industrial land with runway, highway and railway access. The extension of HWY 289 was completed in December of 2009 and now links the airport with Lake Texoma and the DFW Metroplex along the airport’s eastern edge. NTRA continues to enhance its facilities and site feature with completion of the first phase of the $16.9 million Capital Improvement Program. in April 2009, the water drainage system was updated to correct the undersized water drainage and a $4.0 million taxiway rehabilitation project is still underway that will completely overlay the airports taxiways. In 2010, NTRA will revisit and update their 2002 Master Plan in order to systematically plan their capital improvement projects for the coming years.

Transportation

In December 2008, the Sherman-Denison Planning Organization (MPO) completed a Corridor Plan for FM 691 to provide recommendations for short and long term improvements integral to serve the added capacity due to developments of the US 75/FM 691 interchange and NTRA. Through meetings with stakeholders, the study determined the desired “look and feel” of the right away and recommended a general approach for collaborative management between Grayson County, TxDOT, the Cities of Sherman and Denison, and the Grayson County Regional Mobility Authority, that includes options for a new ramping scheme at US 75 and recommendations for the development of a Corridor Access Management Plan to study the access management tools that can be implemented to accommodate existing local and regional traffic capacity demands.

Texoma Area Paratransit System (TAPS) launched its first fixed bus routes on August 24th with the Roo and Viking Routes that links Austin College and Grayson College with shopping outlets in the area.

Industry

Panda Energy will be building a combined cycle natural gas plant in Sherman to meet the increased power needs of North Texas. Richard Evans with Panda Energy said the plant will be located on Progress Drive and will sit on 20 acres out of a 205 acre parcel of land. The Sherman generating station will supply the power needs of 400,000 to 450,000 homes. Construction could begin by the first quarter 2010. After that, it will be about 27 months before the plant is up and running. The construction phase of the plant will require 500 construction jobs. Once the plant is up and running, Evans said the plant could mean well-paying jobs for up to 27 people.

The City of Sherman and Grayson County Commissioners have approved incentives to bring Panda Energy to Sherman. Even with rebates and incentives, Panda Energy will still be paying taxes of $100 million a year.

Health Care

In December of 2009, Texoma Medical Center (TMC) moved into their new facility located at the corner of U.S. Hwy 75 and State Hwy 69 nest to the 140,000 square foot CIGNA call center. The new hospital center has 165 beds, room to expand to 241 beds based on need, a bigger Emergency Department with 26 beds with 4 trauma beds, and an adjacent three story, 120,000 square foot medical office building that will open in early 2010. The Cigna call center and TMC have added more than 150 million dollars in property tax value for the city of Denison.