LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Angelina County is clearly attempting to expand the job market, but other communities play a role, too.
Regionalism is an important factor to keep in mind during efforts to expand job opportunities.
News of the GE layoff sent the Deep East Texas Council of Governments straight to grant applications. DETCOG's Walter Diggles has an Economic Adjustment Assistance Grant from the Economic Development Administration in his sights.
"That's a planning grant that is really structured for communities who have a severe negative impact in employment," Diggles said.
People will be trained for those jobs that are sustainable.
"And some of them will be in the health industry," Diggles said. "That's a growing industry within both Nacogdoches and Angelina County of the region. The health care industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in our region."
The training approach is preferred over chasing down new industry.
"I think the smokestacks and looking after these big Fortune 500 companies to relocate here, it's going to be pie in the sky," Diggles said.
But no economic developer will turn down the opportunity to meet with site selectors. NEDCO met with 10 prospective company site selectors last week in Austin. The first importance was the workforce. Then the discussion shifted.
"What has moved up the ladder in being important to them when their looking at finding out more about our area is regionalism," said Nancy Windham, the director of NEDCO. "They said we need to show them that we are working together as a region."
In other words, the days of communities having a rat race to be the first to woo a company should be coming to end.
"Because we all have a stake in the game," Windham said. "We have everything to win, but we have everything to lose, and I want to be on the winning side."
The competitiveness will remain, but definitely the entire region should be concerned when any East Texan who wants to go to work, can't because the jobs aren't there.