A&M-Corpus Christi Receives a Federal Grant to Construct a Hurricane Harvey Economic Recovery Plan

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Rebuilding homes, businesses and lives after Hurricane Harvey first hit the Texas Gulf Coast eight months ago is a daunting task.

“It is going to take a long time to recover,” said Jorge Ayala, Regional Director for the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA). “For us, it’s trying to bring the businesses back, the customers back, the workers back, and most importantly, the jobs back to the community.”

EDA’s approach stands out from other recovery agencies as it is not involved in the immediate aftermath, but is focused on creating long-term, sound economic recovery plans. The idea is to research the economic needs and potential of communities to help them not only recover, but potentially prosper beyond where they were before the natural disaster. For that, they are enlisting the help of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s College of Business (COB).

“The starting point to delivering economic aid to Hurricane Harvey affected communities is to understand what the baseline needs are and one of the first steps will be for the College of Business to develop a needs assessment survey,” said Dr. John Gamble, COB Dean. “We will survey small businesses and local communities to establish what types of resources provided by the federal government are most useful and needed in the communities.”

The COB expertise is far-reaching and well positioned for such research. In a leading position is the Coastal Bend Business Innovation Center (CBBIC), located just miles from one of the area’s hit hardest by the hurricane. The CBBIC has a long history of engaging with and advising local businesses.

“Since we’re very close to where Harvey impacted the coast, we’re the natural partner for the EDA,” said Russell Franques, CBBIC Director. “We are going to work lock-step for years to come driving recovery and resiliency.”

Another COB resource is the South Texas Economic Development Center (STEDC), which is the primary economic think-tank in the area. Since 2014, STEDC has collected and analyzed economic data in the area aimed at advancing sustainable economic and community development in South Texas.

A deep understanding of the region’s economy prior to the hurricane will help guide current research.

“We are intent on creating economic development with a community versus to a community,” said Dr. Kent Byus, COB Professor of Marketing.

Data analysis and economic plans are not the common visual associated with hurricane recovery, but the hope and expectation is it will serve as a strong foundation in a successful rebuilding effort.