This year, the San Marcos Area Chamber of Commerce continued its goal of learning best practices to grow our region by once again hosting our annual InterCity Visit. 42 community leaders and business professionals from San Marcos, Lockhart and Austin traveled to Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona in October to study the area’s successes and challenges in the hopes of further enhancing San Marcos and our region.
“For us to hear from others who share the same mission as we do, we’re listening to best practices and things we can adopt at home,” said San Marcos Chamber President Page Michel. “It’s really important to be in tune with the emerging trends that are coming from all around the country, and it’s something we can make sure San Marcos is looking ahead to.”
This year’s InterCity Visit hit the ground running, beginning with presentations on Economic Development in the Greater Phoenix region. We heard from members of the Phoenix Chamber and WESTMARC, an economic development organization in West Maricopa County. They gave us an overview of the economic development space in the region, and what challenges they are currently facing.
Day two of the visit began in Tucson, and started with a conversation important to the San Marcos community, building relationships between the University and the surrounding community. We heard from representatives from the University of Arizona, the Tucson Police Department, and local neighborhood associations about how they formed their “Campus Community Relations Committee.” The organization has gathered leaders from both the University and surrounding neighborhoods to figure out ways to co-exist and make a thriving Tucson.
“I think what stood out to me was the (University of Arizona’s) Campus Community Relations Committee, and how that partnered the University, the city, and neighborhood associations, and how they work together to create, promote, and sustain the neighborhoods,” said San Marcos Chamber Board Member Keely Hennig. “Our biggest struggle has been, we need neighbors to be neighbors, and recognize the students, while they may be temporary, they’re still residents of San Marcos.”
Workforce development is key to growing our community into a thriving region. To get a better idea of how Tucson is growing their workforce, we visited Pima Community College, where they are revolutionizing their Workforce Development programs to become one of the leading institutes in the country. We toured their Centers for Excellence to see first hand their commitment to Career and Technical Education (CTE).
“One of the things we liked about workforce development topics, and using Pima Community College as an example, they have a strong relationship with their business community,” said Ted Groholske, Manager of Workforce Development at the Greater San Marcos Partnership. “Having that aspect of having your business community more involved in some of the process and procedures, I think that’s a win-win for everybody.”
Our third day in Arizona saw the attention turn to housing in the Tucson region. We heard from developers, county staff, and the President of the region’s Home Builders Association. We were able to get an overview about the complications they are facing in the housing space, but also areas where they have been able to achieve success.
“Every single one of them talked about how diversity in housing is really something that we have to take a hard look at, said GSMP board member Laura Dupont, “and we need to start creating those opportunities.”
Over the next few months, the Chamber will convene with community members across the region to begin implementing some of what was learned from the InterCity Visit to help shape the future of San Marcos.
Previous InterCity Strategic Leadership Conference Locations:
2021: Research Triangle (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, North Carolina)
2019: Provo, Utah
2018: Greenville, South Carolina