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By Miranda Wilcox – Herald Democrat
The Texoma Council of Governments hosted an inter-regional roundtable Wednesday afternoon for the Economic Development Administration Economic Development District meeting. The meeting provided a chance to introduce North Texas COGs to new key figures within the EDA, while also sharing ideas and providing resources with those present.
In total six different Council of Governments were represented, including the Heart of Texas COG, the North Central Texas COG, East Texas COG, Central Texas COG and Ark-Tex COG. EDA Regional Director Jorge Ayala traveled from Austin to spearhead the meeting, taking the opportunity to introduce the COGs represented to newly appointed Economic Development Representative Cornell Wesley.
“The primary reason was to introduce him, but also to have them get together and kind of network a bit, because Texas is so big,” Ayala said. “They all (the COGs) go down to Austin only two or three times a year and meets with this statewide organization, which is great … but in smaller groups it’s a little easier to communicate.”
And that’s just what these organizations took the opportunity to do. The roundtable gave each entity the opportunity to speak on their projects and programs, and what has been working for them and what hasn’t.
Ayala said Wesley would be able to help the COGs use a variety of resources, from putting together revolving loan funding programs to putting together proposals or grants for funding.
“We want to get smarter and partner with you more,” Ayala said during the meeting. “We want to provide you with some resources.”
TCOG Executive Director Susan Thomas said she came away from the day with at least two ideas she is ready to get started on that came from the other representatives simply sharing their ideas. One of these included a Texoma leadership program to put graduates from local leadership programs on a list available to the community to see who may be a good fit for board seats or appointments.
“That’s what these days are all about,” she said. “Everybody in this room walked away with an idea. … And the thing about COGs, we are extraordinarily transparent and generous with one another. We are not stingy about our ideas. When we have an idea that works, we tell other COGs about that so they can copy that.”
Earlier in the day TCOG had hosted a roundtable for regional economic development. Economic development cooperation (sic) leaders across Texoma gathered to also share their ideas, and what’s been working for them and what they may need assistance with at a local level.
“I think the most interesting thing about today was what we started with all of our local economic development corporations coming together, and sort of in this same roundtable type fashion, going around and talking about what’s going on in their communities,” Thomas said. “So as a region we understand each other and we plug in where we can help. And you see that expanded to … six different COGs coming together and talking about how we’re doing economic development, so it’s regions being regional.”
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