It's a River, not a Wall, Nacogdoches and Angelina- Bridging the Gap
The rivalry across the Angelina River is alive and well, but only if we’re talking about Panthers vs. Dragons. The business rivalry has come to an end, and a formal partnership has begun.
Forward-thinking stakeholders have created a strategic plan to increase collaboration between manufacturers in Angelina and Nacogdoches Counties. With several common goals in mind, the East Texas Manufacturing Alliance was formed.
The Manufacturing Alliance is unique in format. The invited members are all manufacturers in the two counties and were brought to the same table by local supporters including Economic Development organizations, ISDs, Stephen F. Austin State University, Angelina College, Chambers of Commerce, the Small Business Development Center and the T.L.L. Temple Foundation.
But these stakeholders aren’t the ones doing the talking, the manufacturers are. The Manufacturers lead the conversation, expressing their concerns, and collaborate to find solutions. The manufacturers’ chief concerns centered around building the workforce pipeline and business networking.
A 2015 study commissioned by the Manufacturing Institute has predicted by 2025 there will be 150% more manufacturing jobs available than qualified applicants.
Our East Texas manufacturers are facing similar employee recruitment issues. For years, the expected outcome for a high school student was to attend college and earn a 4-year degree. However, plant managers and owners are starting to feel the repercussions from that standard, as seen by shrinking applicant pools for trade professions.
Potential employees left out of the equation, because society has given them the impression that college is the only option and manufacturing jobs are undesirable.
The ETMA has a plan to work with local school districts to make students and parents aware of career pathways open to those who follow a technical training program.
The ETMA has led to multiple connections between the respective manufacturers. Many have begun new business-to-business relationships across county lines. Seeking supply chain networks to source materials and specialized products within our region is a manufacturing version of “shopping local.”
This network also creates a regional voice, that can be used to achieve goals with a larger impact than a single business would have.
Members hope to advocate for infrastructure improvements, increased suppliers in the region, and greater access to financial resources to expand their businesses.
The East Texas Manufacturing Alliance and its stakeholders hope to foster a long-lasting business environment which attracts young professionals to the area, to ensure future success of manufacturing in our region.
Finding solutions for our existing manufacturers will also foster an environment which will improve the region’s attractiveness to new businesses looking to expand or relocate.
The members of the East Texas Manufacturing Alliance understand both counties’ full economic potential can only be reached by collaborating as a unified team to solve problems and attract investment, even if we are rivals on the football field.
About The Author
Ashley Morgan is the Marketing Assistant for the Nacogdoches Economic Development Corporation (NEDCO.) Ashley graduated in 2015 with a Bachelor’s Degree from SFA. She is married and lives in Nacogdoches, where she enjoys participating in civic engagement and community events. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, writing, walking trails with her husband and two dogs, and baking.