Forum highlights Kleberg County's economic outlook

from Kingsville Record and Bishop News

Stagnant population growth and a need for more housing were some of the issues highlighted at this year’s Economic Forum, held last week at Texas A&M University-Kingsville.

Nearly 150 people, including local officials and community leaders, attended the event. A pair of speakers – Keith Phillips, senior economic and policy advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, and Thomas Krueger, professor and director of faculty research at TAMUK– discussed various state and local economic issues, including what impact potential cuts to military spending might have on military communities.

“The military is invested quite a bit in Texas,” Phillips said. “It’s always hard when the military gets (hit with) cuts, but I think we could sustain them.” Phillips also highlighted numbers that showed that the state’s economy and job market is growing above the national averages, with job growth measuring between 2.2 percent and 2.9 percent, compared to a range of 0.8 percent to 1.4 percent nationally. 

Krueger touched on Kleberg County’s economic status during his nearly 30-minute presentation. He presented figures that highlighted various needs or issues within the area, such as the need for more housing and physicians. One set of figures he presented was that Kleberg County residents paid more in rent per month than on mortgage, $651 to $633, respectively.

“Here in Kleberg County, go out and buy a home, because you actually spend more on rent here,” Krueger said.

Alice Byers, executive director of the Kingsville Chamber of Commerce, said having a consistent population level allows the region to avoid any dramatic changes that could negatively affect the area.

“We’ve stayed pretty steady and I think that’s a good thing, because you pretty much know what to expect,” she said. “I think steady growth is easier to plan for than big jumps or dips.”

Krueger said the employment industry has not changed in terms of leading categories, with the services related industry remaining at the top of the list, followed by the government and nonservices related industries. Services related jobs include such positions as cashiers and waitresses, while non-services related fields include machinists and other positions.

Government jobs are comprised of educators, police officers and other municipal and county employees. Byers said she was not surprised that nonservices related jobs did not make up a large portion of the local employment industry. “Kingsville is unique in that although oil and gas is a big mover in the region, it doesn’t impact Kingsville as much,” Byers said. "We are much more impacted by what happens at the university and the base."

Dick Messbarger, executive director of the Greater Kingsville Economic Development Council, said he hoped to see the city continue its efforts to attract more residential development in order to provide more single-family housing for new and current residents. The next challenge is to attract new retail businesses in order to keep money earned locally within the city and county. 

"You create jobs, but we're not getting the benefits," he said of the current situation.

This page was last updated on: August 7, 2017