“A charming past, a soaring future” is how the Development Council of Richmond (DCR), describes its city. And with Emsi, the Texas city is closer than ever to making the second part of the slogan a reality.
The city recently commissioned a consulting report from Emsi, in coordination with HWA Analytics, to determine which industries Richmond is best suited to develop. A Houston Chronicle story sponsored by the DCR lays out the findings of Emsi’s study.
The city, which lies 30 miles southwest of Houston on the banks of the Brazos river, is the county seat of Fort Bend County. And Fort Bend County is projected to see serious growth: an additional 2.1 million in population over the next 30 years.
Making sure that economic growth keeps up with population is a high priority for Richmond’s government.
“It was important to conduct this study to be able to offer hard data to companies interested in locating to Richmond and it backs up our claims that Richmond’s location, workforce, and business environment really do offer a competitive advantage” Cameron Goodman, DCR Executive Director, told the Chronicle.
Alivia Metts, Emsi’s director of economic and workforce development consulting, analyzed various industries in Richmond and the surrounding Fort Bend County.
“When conducting a target industry analysis, Emsi looks at how concentrated an industry cluster is compared to the nation, its competitive effect, supply chain, employment and employment growth. To that end, we look at whether or not an area has the workforce to supply the needs of these industries and any opportunities in their supply chains that local businesses can fill, or new businesses to attract,” Metts told the Chronicle.
Findings from the study
The study found five industries Richmond is poised to expand and develop:
- Oil & gas
- Healthcare and social services
- Business services
- Professional, scientific, and technology services
- Real estate, finance, and insurance services.
All of these industries already exist at high concentrations in Richmond, and the city has a qualified workplace ready to fill new jobs in these sectors. “This data has been very helpful in demonstrating our community’s talented available workforce, particularly in a time of very low unemployment,” Goodman said.
“Knowing which industries to target with our recruitment efforts was essential. As a small organization, these findings were very important in helping the development corporation tailor its business recruitment efforts towards business clusters that best fit and would likely benefit from our community’s assets,” Goodman said.
The Emsi team made several visits to Richmond in order to get an on-the-ground sense of the city’s strengths and needs. Metts was immediately struck both by Richmond’s old-world charm and its proximity to major transportation lines.
That first impression made its way into Emsi’s final recommendations. Metts and her team suggested that the town invest in aesthetic maintenance and infrastructure improvements like public transportation and fiber optics in order to support the resident workforce and attract remote tech workers to relocate in the town.
During their visits, the team held stakeholder engagement meetings with businesses, educational institutions, and local agencies. They came up with a few priorities beyond infrastructure improvement:
- Expand retail, housing, and office space in and near Richmond proper, in a way that is consistent with Richmond’s character.
- Partner with the George Foundation, a local philanthropic institution, to increase workforce education and bring amenities to underserved areas.
Plans for the future
To make the hoped-for expansion happen, the city is pursuing partnerships with private developers. It’s also broadcasting the quality-of-life advantages its town already provides, from timeless architecture, to Texas history, to a boutique shopping and restaurant district.
“The entire process of working with Emsi was fantastic. The consulting team included professionals with a diverse range of experience and backgrounds who each brought unique perspectives during the planning process. The consulting team remained in very frequent conversation during the study and has been an asset in answering questions even after the project concluded,” Goodman said.
And even though the official consulting project has wrapped up, Emsi data will continue to be a part of Richmond’s journey.
“When I learned that our consulting project would include future access to Emsi’s data, the benefit of working with Emsi’s consulting team became even more clear, as it would allow me to keep the study’s findings updated even after the project had concluded,” Goodman said.
It’s easy to see why Richmond is proud of its colorful past. And Emsi is equally proud to be a part of building its future.
Interested in learning more about Emsi’s Target Industry and Cluster Analysis? Contact Alivia Metts to discuss our consulting services.