TEEX is facilitating the creation of a first-of-its kind economic development strategy for the City of Prairie View, which is home to Prairie View A&M University. Prairie View Mayor Frank Jackson is leading the effort, dubbed the “Communi-Versity Economic Development Initiative” and chairs the Communi-Versity Advisory Council, which is comprised of leaders from the community, Prairie View A&M University and the private sector.
“This is a challenging, but exciting project,” said Program Director Joan Quintana, with TEEX’s Knowledge Engineering division. “I have long been interested in building economic development strategies for small communities that are home to universities. The universities have much to offer in the way of economic opportunity and the best way to maximize this potential is collaboration between the community and university. With this project we are providing opportunities for the faculty and staff of Prairie View A&M University to work with local city officials and economic development professionals to create jobs and attract additional business and investments that will benefit both the university and the local community.”
TEEX economic development specialists, including graduate students from both Prairie View A&M and the Bush School of Government at Texas A&M University, are looking at the university and community environment to find opportunities for business expansion and job growth. Under the direction of Joan Quintana and Caleb Holt, the team is conducting interviews with Prairie View A&M faculty and leaders, as well as local community leaders, many of whom work at Prairie View A&M.
In addition to providing a “Community Baseline Assessment,” the group is performing what Quintana calls an Opportunities Inventory. “We’re in the discovery phase right now as we visit with faculty and staff and ask them, as the subject-matter experts, to share what they see as the greatest opportunities for growth within their areas of expertise,” she said. “We’re looking for opportunities to create jobs and identify new revenue streams. There may be research activities that result in commercial products or academic programs that could be expanded to meet a growing educational need. We’re looking for niche research, education and technology transfer opportunities.”
The TEEX team is working with the Texas A&M System Office of Technology Commercialization to coordinate commercialization activities already underway at Prairie View A&M. Once the Opportunities Inventory is complete, the team will perform benchmarking studies to determine which activities have the best opportunity to set Prairie View apart from other communities and create jobs. Investment in these opportunities will set Prairie View apart and become additional economic engines for the university and community, Quintana said. The project is being funded by Prairie View and TEEX’s Technical Assistance for Regional Growth in Economic Development (TARGET) program.