It was a time for leaders throughout the community to put their heads together for the common goal of helping Angelina County grow. Many of those who attended today's planning retreat say they have a solid foundation to build on.
"We've become a regional medical center, we are growing to be a regional shopping center with the new stores we have coming into town, and we believe there are a lot of positives in Angelina County," said Trey Denman of First Bank & Trust.
Economic development was the main topic of today's discussion. With the loss of industry jobs throughout the county in 2003, many are looking for ways to bring in new jobs in 2004. And some say just promoting may not be enough.
"They're not always just looking at Lufkin," said Chamber President Jerry Huffman. "We want to look at what's in Diboll and Hudson, Burke, Zavalla, and Huntington, too. And I think we'll continue to do that."
Bringing in new business means more than just trying to grow the community. It will also help offset some of last year's losses. The idling of the Lufkin paper mill alone could take as much as 1.5 million dollars out of the budget for Lufkin ISD.
"That's something we can budget and we can live with, but if we continue to have a decrease in tax base and there's a decrease in businesses that will be devastating to everybody," said LISD Superintendent David Sharp.