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Officials discuss regional economic outlook at annual conference

Photo by: Preslie Cox | Multimedia Editor
President and CEO of The Perryman Group, Ray Perryman, spoke about future economic growth for San Marcos May 21 at the San Marcos Economic Outlook held at Embassy Suites.

The Greater San Marcos Partnership hosted city officials and esteemed guests to discuss the regional economic outlook of the San Marcos area.

Ray Perryman, economist, president and CEO of the Perryman Group, was the keynote speaker at the 2015 Economic Outlook conference. Perryman offered his professional insight on the future economic climate in Texas and the Interstate Highway 35 (IH-35) corridor.

Perryman said there is no doubt as to why San Marcos was named the fastest-growing city in the U.S. for the third consecutive year. Georgetown ranked as the second fastest-growing city in the U.S., he said.

“It is no accident,” Perryman said. “Those two cities have something in common and it’s that they’re located close to Austin.”

San Marcos sits along the “technology corridor,” Perryman said. He said San Marcos’ economic growth and prosperity is due to its distinctive industries.

“You build your own identity,” Perryman said. “You build your own industrial structure.”

He said the presence of Texas State adds to the success of the technology sector in San Marcos and neighboring cities.

“We’ve seen significant growth in the area for a long time,” Perryman said.

Perryman spoke of how Texas’ geopolitical climate transformed with the 2008 oil boom. The introduction of hydraulic fracturing or fracking, increased the amount of oil production in Texas, Perryman said.

“The thing that really set us apart was an oil boom like we have never seen before,” Perryman said.

He said Texas saw a 350-percent growth in the oil industry after 2008, making up for prior losses in the market.

Perryman said Central Texas does not rely heavily on the oil industry to fuel the region’s economies. He said any presence of oil and gas industries in the San Marcos area is a result of foreign lenders and investors “painting the same brush” across Texas’ diverse regions.

“The technology sector is doing extremely well right now,” Perryman said.

He said infrastructure, public education and water regulation require more attention and reform.

“When you’re adding over a 1,000 people a day, you gotta keep up with these people,” Perryman said. “Texas always waits until the last minute.”

Daniel Guerrero, Mayor of San Marcos, said water requires the most attention from all the issues Perryman mentioned.

“The issue of water has been a top priority for the city for decades,” Guerrero said. “San Marcos has positioned themselves very well over a multitude of years in anticipation of growth.”

Guerrero said San Marcos is in a period of water surplus and is working with neighboring cities to build regional partnerships.

Panelist Becky Collins, general manager of Walton Development and Management, said she did not understand regional economic development until moving to San Marcos.

Collins said many people relocating to Austin from other cities in the U.S. are not aware of the surrounding communities such as Buda, Wimberley and Dripping Springs.

She said people know all about Austin, but there is a great opportunity for investment and growth by distinguishing the differences between places like Kyle and Lockhart that are less known.

“We’re all going to benefit, and it’s only a matter of time before that really starts percolating in a big way,” Collins said. “It’s a longterm investment. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”