I’m back to work this week, and my brother is healing, praise God.
I admire and respect my Dad so much. He is the best father, and has always been interested in my work. We frequently discuss my projects and how I approach problem-solving, and his advice and insight have been invaluable.
I am seeing a lot of change on the horizon for small towns in Texas. I’m from a region that doesn’t even qualify as a town, so I don’t look as this as an outsider, I see this as someone who has a family legacy in it. I have lived in large cities, but small towns are where my heart is and where I grew up. They are where my family has done business for centuries on two continents, including more than two centuries on this one.
And I really just love them.
One of the challenges of small towns is the frequent lack of knowledge about good policy and good governance. This is an observation, not a criticism. Small towns have difficulty supporting and therefore attracting talent that comes with a knowledge base that supports engineering, planning and other local government functions. Sometimes this works for the community because specialized technical expertise is not required. Sometimes it doesn’t, particularly in situations in which a community is experiencing growth or a substantial increase in visitors.
Texas is growing, and Texans are their own best tourists. It is starting to put a lot of pressure on small towns.
Enter the retiring Baby Boomer.
Ignore the claims about trends of retirees flocking to dense urban places where they can walk and socialize to their hearts’ content. Retirees are coming to Texas for the open land, natural beauty and friendliness of small towns. They are buying ranchettes and subdivided lots, or they are buying RVs and living part time in parks along the Hill Country’s stunning rivers. It is a new trend, and one that can be of benefit to small towns that need the knowledge, skill and experience that these new residents can provide.
These new residents are tax payers, and they are going to want value for their money.
It is of benefit to small town leaders to look to this new group – new neighbors, if you will – as a strategic benefit rather than as a threat. Upending the system is difficult and a challenge, but when the system needs improvement and budgets are tight, quality and essentially free assistance can be a asset that is well worth utilizing.