New attitude fuels interest in revitalization, 'Vision McGregor'

POSTED: Thursday, March 7, 2013 - 12:35pm
UPDATED: Thursday, March 7, 2013 - 1:07pm

A Central Texas city says a new attitude is fueling the desire and efforts to revitalize their community. About six thousand job opportunities are available in McGregor, and only about 35 percent of those employed in the city actually live there as well. City leaders are hoping to change that.

"McGregor has possibilities that it didn't have before, and we're willing to capitalize on those opportunities," said Executive Director of McGregor Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture, Jon Mark Smith.

Capitalization and pushing the limits are the core concepts behind “Vision McGregor”. It's an idea, six months in the making, to revive the small Central Texas city. McGregor has a population of about 5,000 people. City officials are thrilled to have more than 17 percent of the population already on board.

"For us to have had over ten percent participation in the process was just massive. And, it shows that people are interested," said Smith.

Plans to redevelop Main Street, build newer housing, and a central community center are already in the works. Officials are in the process of replacing 50-year-old park equipment. The economic development corporation is in the process of buying this 15-thousand square foot barn to become a central part of The Exchange which will include a farmers market. The Exchange will be a nonprofit organization, fueled through donations. McGregor’s Economic Development Corporation will spend $150,000, which will be matched with a $150,000 loan from the First National Bank. The bank will in turn put $50,000 back into The Exchange.

"This community center is going to be something that is going to bless and encourage our community."

City leaders want to add more murals and hopefully bring more businesses back to downtown, which they anticipate will help revitalize the city.

"We want to make sure they see, ‘it's okay’. You can stay here and be a part of this process and be a part of this system".

Not only is downtown expanding, but the school district says they are growing too. In May, they'll vote on a 18.5 million dollar bond, which will include 11.5 million dollars for the construction of a new primary school to solve current overcrowding issues. The rest of the funding will cover increased security and renovations at the high school. The bond will result in a 19 cent tax increase for taxpayers.

"People want to live here. People want to work here. People want to go to school here. And, so I think that's one of the reasons we're growing so rapidly," said Kevin Houchin, Superintendent of McGregor ISD.

Smith says the school district is also working to get all 1,375 of their students iPads. The election for the school's bond will be on May 11th. “Vision McGregor” is expected to be completed by 2030.

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