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KAY DECUIR – Nederland’s economic development takes fulltime, dynamic approach

People sometimes ask “What does an Economic Developer do and what is your job?”

Economic developers work with financial institutions and SBA Financing to help small businesses secure the capital needed to be successful.

Economic developers assist entrepreneurs in making their dreams a reality. Through working with the small business development centers and providing workshops such as Creating a Business Plan, Business Continuity, Entrepreneurship, Safety in the Workplace and other critical topics, economic developers strive to help businesses stay safe, secure and stable.

Economic developers promote the economic well-being and quality of life for their communities by creating, retaining and expanding jobs that facilitate growth, enhance wealth and provide a stable tax base. (www.iedconline.org)

Do you need a degree or experience in economic development?

The answer should be yes. There are so many moving pieces and players in economic development and in order to understand each element of the job you need to have a broad-based educational background when helping to drive the economy in your area as well as working on large scale projects.

Economic developers also work in the beautification and revitalization of the community they serve. Simply put, my job is to work with current industry, retention and expansion of jobs and local businesses.

Economic developers work with the Texas Workforce Commission, local and higher education professionals, Port Authorities, the railroad commission, TxDOT, TCEQ, city, county and state government officials. Economic developers stay focused on local, regional and state level projects to bring new projects to their town.

Many times, when working on a project of a large scale or even a national franchise, it can take years of work behind the scenes. When the project comes through it is nice to see the hard work has paid off.

When you don’t win the project, many lessons are learned to be used toward the next prospective project. While most days it is a fun job with many long hours after leaving the office, there are usually many obstacles with each project.

In April 1996, the Nederland EDC was founded as a Type B non-profit as defined by the 1979 Development Corporation Act. The Incorporation Documents were filed with the Secretary of the State.

The goals of the Nederland EDC are to attract and grow primary industry jobs, increase sales tax revenue, increase property tax revenue, support a positive business climate, promote and assist Nederland Businesses and leverage investment in the community.

A current project of the Nederland EDC is working on the revitalization of our downtown area. We are constructing the Gateway to Nederland Arch.

The City recently signed off on our permits so the project should begin within the next few weeks, according to the architects.

A second project is demolishing the former Villa Motel and preparing a greenfield space on Nederland Avenue to attract a new business that will bring job growth and revenue to the town.

The Nederland EDC can develop land, purchase and lease buildings, while constructing new buildings as part of a revitalization and economic development.

The Nederland EDC offers a beautification program to local businesses to improve the exterior façade, painting, parking improvements, signage and landscaping.

In 2020 the Nederland EDC began offering a COVID-19 Loan program to small businesses with zero percent interest if the loan was paid back within the six-month timeframe. The loan program is still available to those who did not apply the first time.

There are other programs the Nederland EDC can offer to businesses that have been in existence and are looking to expand by bringing in new product offerings.
The phones ring daily at the Nederland EDC from new businesses trying to move into Nederland, and our goal is to help them in finding the perfect location for their business.

We work with landlords, building owners and REALTORS who have properties for sale or lease. Finding the right location for the right business can be tricky because most times it depends on traffic count, proximity to rail or air, size of ceiling heights, bay doors for cargo shipments and other critical factors.

The Nederland EDC spends a large amount of money advertising and marketing our community through social media outlets, television commercials, using highway billboards and local newspaper.

We push our local businesses individual Facebook posts and pages on a daily basis. With the impact of COVID on every town, we chose to spend extra money this year just in marketing our community. We want everyone to know what a great community of resources we have in Nederland.
As an economic developer for the town in which I was raised, I only want the best for Nederland. I enjoy bringing in new businesses and helping our existing businesses expand.

We do not get to pick and choose the businesses that come to town, we work with everyone. I count each business and new adventure as a blessing to our town and want to promote positive growth and progressive thinking for the future.
Looking back and doing the same things over and over will not grow our town. Thinking outside of the box and taking chances with fresh new ideas is the way to expand our community and revitalize what we have to stay strong for the next 100 years.
“Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome.” — Samuel Johnson, English author (1709-1784)

Kay DeCuir is the executive director of the Nederland Economic Development Corporation. She can be reached at kdecuir@nededc.com.