History of the Four States Regional Partnership:
Red River Army Depot (RRAD) is the largest employer in the Northeast Texas workforce region and one of the largest in the Four States Region. In fact about 25% of RRAD employees reside outside the state of Texas. Reductions in defense spending has resulted in workforce reductions across the country. In response to the defense industry workforce reductions in the RRAD region, Workforce Solutions Northeast Texas applied for a grant in 2013 from the Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA). The Board was awarded a “Defense Industry Adjustment” grant in December 2014; matching funds of 10% were raised prior to application. The contributions came from organizations across the four state region. Contributors were told that the OEA grant would be used to conduct a workforce and economic study of the region impacted by RRAD employment, and that the information garnered would be used to develop a plan of action focusing on workforce retention and long-term economic growth for the region.
Workforce and Economic Study:
Workforce Solutions Northeast Texas released a Request for Proposal (RFP) to search for a consulting firm to provide the desired study and action plan. Several proposals were received and scored both internally by Board staff, as well as externally by a number of community stakeholders. TIP Strategies of Austin, TX was selected by both groups. TIP Strategies was awarded the contract, which began in February and was set to conclude in August 2014. Tom Stellman, President/CEO, and Alex Cooke, Senior Consultant, visited the region several times over a 4 month period and met with various focus groups. These meetings provided TIP Strategies with the information needed for the development of the “Regional Talent Retention and Economic Growth Strategy”.
The Regional Talent Retention and Economic Growth Strategy, prepared by TIP Strategies, outlines a strategic plan focused on retaining the region’s workforce and enhancing economic development efforts. Volume 1 contains the narrative of the strategic plan, and volume 2 contains much of the data and analysis used in the plan’s development.
Upon completion of the Regional Talent Retention and Economic Growth Strategy, an additional RFP was developed and issued to help Workforce solutions to examine the recommendations identified in the Regional Talent Retention and Economic Growth Strategy to chart a course of action forward. The winning contractor was Future IQ Partners, with offices in Australia, Europe and North America. David Beurle, CEO & Founder, lead the focus group discussions and developed the “Strategic Implementation Plan”.
The Strategic Implementation Plan, created by Future IQ Partners, identifies action items focused on advancing the ideals outlined in the strategic plan.
Strategic Implementation Plan
The Second OEA Grant:
Workforce Solutions Northeast Texas, with the support of several regional organizations applied for and was awarded an additional U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) OEA Defense Industry Adjustment Grant. Additional local match funds were contributed by a number of key partners.
A requirement of the OEA Grant is that a 10% non-federal match is required to receive any grant funds awarded. Local partners contributing to these efforts included: AEP/SWEPCO; the City of Texarkana, TX; the City of Texarkana, AR; Texarkana Chamber of Commerce; Atlanta, TX Economic Development Corporation; Cass County; Nash, TX Industrial Development Corporation; DeKalb, TX Industrial Development Corporation; and Clarksville, TX Economic Development Corporation. These partners significant commitment allowed Workforce Solutions Northeast Texas to qualify for the grant opportunity and secure the additional funding. The grant was awarded in June of 2015.
The scope of work for this OEA grant is to addresses many of the recommendations developed from the first OEA grant. The funds will be used for a 15 month economic adjustment project for the region. The project has a number of goals:
Goal 1: Strengthen support for economic development efforts
Goal 2: Diversify the regional economy through both business expansion and attraction
Goal 3: Explore the possibility of a regionally focused Economic Development group
The grant funds will be used to complete a stakeholder network and communication plan. The communication plan will provide updates on grant activities and events.
The grant funds will also be used to hire an economic development organizational consultant to manage an orchestrated conversation as to the region’s interest in coming together to form, fund and manage a regional economic development partnership.
Additional pieces of the plan include a Target Industry Analysis and Workforce Needs Analysis. These regional studies will highlight economic assets and resources, strengthening economic development efforts in business expansion and attraction.
Workforce Solutions Northeast Texas is partnering with the TexAmericas Center to accomplish this initiative. TexAmericas, a state of Texas redevelopment authority, will act as the Local Project Coordinator and Convener, and will be responsible for subcontracting for certain plans and studies necessary to accomplish the goals of the project. TexAmericas brings robust economic development knowledge and experience to this job creation and resource alignment effort.