Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

April 2, 2014

Kavalier shares economic development ideas

By Janet Jacobs
Corsicana Daily Sun

Corsicana — A brainstorming session hosted by Bill McNutt and the McNutt Family Foundation at the Corsicana Government Center Tuesday brought together a small unique group of leaders from the community to talk about how the success of Silicon Valley can be translated to Corsicana.

“We can't let fear of failure keep us from trying new things,” McNutt said.

Among those in attendance were Navarro College President Barbara Kavalier, Corsicana Mayor Chuck McClanahan, City Manager Connie Standridge, City Councilman John McClung, County Commissioner Dick Martin, City/County Economic Development Director Bill King, businesswoman Susan Bruce, Chamber of Commerce CEO Paul Hooper, and Margaret Moreno and Elizabeth Pillans, both of Navarro College.

Each attendee was asked to put forward a spur-of-the-moment idea for aiding the city's development. Among those were the creation of a Katie Trail for Corsicana that would be a hike/bike trail to link together public spaces; greater emphasis it as a retirement community; downtown revitalization; creating a nice entrance to the city off the Interstate; and appealing to the cars driving past on I-45.

“So many things are going on here, so we need to tap into that ready-made market there,” McClung said.

The centerpiece of the meeting were two short presentations by Kavalier, who shared some of the insight she learned while working at San Jose City College. McNutt has investment interests in Silicon Valley, as well.

Kavalier said she participated in two organizations that were crucial to economic development in the Valley — The Greater San Jose Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, both of which were designed to create a synergy of ideas, enthusiasm and action for the area.

The Leadership Group was made up of CEOs of the major corporations, which focused on specific needs of the area, i.e. transportation, taxes, energy, housing, etc., and arrived at specific solutions.

They leveraged the CEOs to advance the needs of Silicon Valley, Kavalier said.

Having that kind of private sector help was something that City Manager Connie Standridge said she would welcome.

“A city alone can't do everything to grow an area,” she said. “It's more than buying a ticket to the chamber banquet each year.”

Among the recommendations at the end of the meeting were for better communications, a more cohesive vision for the community, legislative advocacy, and more amenities within the city.

Kavalier told the group that places are valued for their authenticity and uniqueness. Corsicana has that in its history, neighborhoods and cultural offerings, she said. She then asked if they wanted to build a unique community or a city of chain stores?

Several people mentioned that a positive attitude was crucial to community development.

“I think if we keep a positive attitude with good solid goals we can do almost anything,” Pillans said.

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Janet Jacobs may be reached via e-mail at jjacobs@corsicanadailysun.com. Want to “sound off” to this article? E-mail: Soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com