Regionally-Driven Economic Development Planning at the South Plains Association of Governments (SPAG)
The South Plains Association of Governments (SPAG) partnered with the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA)'s VISTA Corps to expand the promotion of economic development planning in the region's 15 counties. The overall goal is to build economic capacity in rural communities and enhance the quality of life throughout the region.
In their second year of participation in the EDA VISTA Corps program, SPAG chose Texas Tech University masters candidate Edward Floyd to serve as their VISTA member. For his service, Floyd was tasked with progressing the project from the first year's planning phase into the execution phase. To do this, Floyd convened local community members and stakeholders to provide input that would be used to update SPAG's Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). Floyd hosted several meetings and roundtable events to gather information while he worked with 21 unique organizations to assess community goals.
Floyd has conducted in-depth community research through conversations with local officials and economic development agencies to gather data specific to regional opportunities and threats. Floyd worked especially close with three rural counties, Garza, Hockley, and Hale, to craft detailed County Economic Profiles. These profiles integrate into the larger CEDS document and provide user-friendly snapshots that can be used as living documents to influence both community and economic development efforts.
The community engagement efforts helped Floyd leverage the CEDS development process to create larger stakeholder buy-in and will result in a robust tool that officials throughout the region can utilize to enhance their communities' economic future. For this project, Floyd also worked in collaboration with the SPAG Board of Directors. This governing body is responsible for driving the actions of the region and consists of local elected officials representing the 15-county SPAG region. On March 29, Floyd was invited by the SPAG Board to review the details of the regional strategic plan. The CEDS, presented by Floyd, was received favorably and approved by the SPAG Board.
The goal of the CEDS is to identify unique threats and opportunities through community engagement and use those to build capacity and guide the economic prosperity of a region. In 2013, the city of Plainview lost one of its largest employers and has suffered drought conditions throughout the past several years due to a lack of rain. These events put an increased strain on the economy of this farming and ranching community. The research and regional profiling resulting from the community input portion of the CEDS update will allow SPAG to help Plainview develop strategies to increase the community's economic resiliency.
In addition to his work on the regional CEDS, Floyd assisted SPAG staff in writing a Texas Capital Funds Grant and a U.S. Department of Transportation TIGER grant. Floyd's work was used to prepare grants that align with regional economic development priorities that resulted in attracting a new employer and jobs to a rural area of the region.
Edward Floyd is a Texas native originally from the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Floyd has a passion for serving the community and is grateful to have aligned his professional pursuits with organizations like SPAG, the EDA, and CNCS that provide the ideal support and platform for an AmeriCorps VISTA. During Floyd's time as a VISTA, he was able to complete a Master of Public Administration degree from Texas Tech University. Floyd is committed to serving his country as evidenced by his service as a VISTA and as a serviceman in the National Guard.