The Greater San Marcos Partnership hosted the 2021 Texas Innovation Corridor Economic Outlook on Thursday at Embassy Suites/San Marcos Conference Center. Above, a panel moderated by Alan Adelman, senior fund manager and senior research analyst for Frost Bank, and consisting of Thomas Bergeron, senior fund manager and senior research analyst for Frost Bank; Jonathan Waite, senior research analyst for Frost Bank; and Belinda Román, a professor of economics at St. Mary’s University and lead economist for Román Economics. Below, GSMP President Jason Giulietti speaks to the crowd. Daily Record photos by Lance Winter
ECONOMIC OUTLOOK: Greater San Marcos Partnership hosts discussion on region’s economic forecast
Greater San Marcos Partnership President Jason Giulietti told a crowd gathered for the 2021 Texas Innovation Corridor Economic Outlook that the Hays and Caldwell County region is seeing success at a level never seen.
Giulietti highlighted the region’s rapid growth, citing Hays County as the fastest growing county in the country, as well as an educated workforce and low unemployment rates for the region’s success during Thursday’s event at the Embassy Suites/San Marcos Conference Center.
“Those [unemployment] numbers are only getting stronger by the new job opportunities that are coming to our community through new investment in the businesses that are calling Central Texas, not just these counties, home,” Giulietti said. “And what that’s doing is providing the necessary ingredients for sustainability … You’re finding an amazing amount of opportunities to move your career path up the food chain and as you grow with the new opportunities that are coming here.”
GSMP saw a record-breaking 14 economic development deals across the Texas Innovation Corridor, which encompasses Hays and Caldwell counties, in its 2021 fiscal year, Giulietti said. In the start of its new fiscal year, GSMP has already announced the expansion of CED Greentech in Buda and Chem-Energy in Caldwell County.
“In fiscal year 21, the [GSMP] was able to provide more than $75 million in new revenue to our communities in Hays and Caldwell counties,” Giulietti said. “Think about what that does for you as residents, as taxpayers, that softens that burden that allows them to build the fire stations needed, the schools needed and the opportunities to grow those communities and to keep up with demand. So, we’re proud to share that number, we're proud to share that this business growth is making our economy stronger.”
Thursday’s economic outlook also featured a panel discussion examining the national economy as well as the region. Alan Adelman, senior fund manager and senior research analyst for Frost Bank, moderated the panel consisting of Thomas Bergeron, senior fund manager and senior research analyst for Frost Bank; Jonathan Waite, senior research analyst for Frost Bank; and Belinda Román, a professor of economics at St. Mary’s University and lead economist for Román Economics.
Bergeron and Walte provided a macro look at the nation’s economy, discussing COVID-19’s impact, labor shortages and inflation. Román spoke of the region’s economy, highlighting Texas State University's presence, payroll increases, natural amenities like the San Marcos River and increases in patent activity in the area.
“In terms of growth, from 2010-2015, this particular area, the Texas Innovation Corridor, was one of the nation’s fastest growing and I think it will continue to be a high-growth area — 44% increase in population since the last census,” Román said. “...And then an educated workforce, and again, Texas State — this is key — Texas State is really helping build here. You see that 89% of the population has a high school education, so that’s good news. And then 30-35% are getting bachelor’s [degrees] and you keep growing that and you keep growing the opportunity for higher wage, higher skilled labor force and I think that’s important.”
Following the economic outlook, Giulietti led a panel discussion with local experts who shared insights on how the current environment has impacted their approach to thriving in today’s economy. The panel featured Donny Hirsch, director of corporate manufacturing at Thermon Industries; Jessica Rudman, branch manager at Priority Personnel; and Shilpa Amin, owner of Stonebridge Hotels, LLC.
The panel first shared their thoughts on business during the pandemic.
“As all of you know for the past year, or two years now, it’s been a tough environment to do business and we’ve been manufacturing here in San Marcos, our company has been here since 1970 and the past two years have been a very tough environment,” Hirsch said.
“2020, for us, the really big task was how to contract your operation to sort of keep things running, not shut down,” added Amin. “We managed to keep our properties open by shutting down certain departments: the restaurants, the bars, we shut down.”
Above, a panel discussion during Thursday's 2021 Texas Innovation Corridor Economic Outlook featured moderator Jason Giulietti, GSMP President; and panelists Donny Hirsch, director of corporate manufacturing at Thermon Industries; Jessica Rudman, branch manager at Priority Personnel; and Shilpa Amin, owner of Stonebridge Hotels, LLC. Daily Record photo by Lance Winter
The panel also shared their thoughts about what the future holds for their respective businesses in 2022.
Amin said with travel back Stonebridge Hotels is exceeding its 2018 and 2019 numbers during weekends.
“My understanding is that business travel is about 75% back nationwide,” Amin said. “By [quarter two] and [quarter three] of next year, it should be back to pre-COVID levels … I don’t think, even with variants, I don’t think that travel is going to be anything that’s gonna just boom for the next few years.”
Hirsch said he expects Thermon Industries to have a healthy fiscal year in 2022.
“We’re going back to levels that were pre-COVID and well beyond that so we do see continued growth,” Hirsch said. “There’s a lot of strength in the economy and we do expect that to continue to do well over the next year.”
Rudman, who said Priority Personnel staffs businesses across the region, said a pocket of the workforce is still absent.
“We have to figure out a way to find those people and why they’re not working,” Rudman said. “At some point we have to find that pocket of the workforce that we lost and try to obtain them because as production needs grow and demands grow, we have to be able to find those people. So, that’s one thing we’re focused on.”