Third Connected Coast Summit Unites the Coastal Bend

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Strength in unity is the attitude that prevails after the latest Connected Coast Summit held at the Texas State Aquarium earlier this year. The summit is part of a series organized by The College of Business (COB) at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

“Our third summit focused on innovation and technology’s impact to small business development and the ecosystem that is essential for resilient economic development,” said Dr. Kent Byus, COB Professor of Marketing and Entrepreneurship at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

National experts joined community leaders from Hurricane Harvey hit areas to discuss ideas, resources, and data. The technology focus of the summit was of special interest to Jeffrey Hentz, President and CEO of Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce and Tourist Bureau Board of Directors.

“Technology, today and in the next 10 years, will evolve and we have to stay in front of it,” Hentz said.

Hentz is already utilizing the power of technology to drive tourists back to the waterfront town of Port Aransas.

“You don't have to necessarily overpay to be in the game of tourism-marketing with the way technology is, and social media has helped with that,” he said.

Gregory Pogue, Executive Director of IC² Institute at UT Austin and one of the summit presenters, explained how technology could be used to transform the region into a more robust business hub.

“Technological connectivity is a way that employees could flood this region and grow business that is a different model from what is happening in Houston, San Antonio, and Austin,” Pogue said.

Pogue added that if the region collectively re-envisions their economic future, the economy has an opportunity to come back stronger.

“If you bring together the industry sectors across the coastal area, you have a much more diverse economy. You have a much more broad-based economy and you have a much larger group of competitive service providers which gives an opportunity to draw in people from outside the region,” he said.

Byus said the third summit series, which was held earlier this year, was a success for the community and an extension of the College of Business’ goals.

“The University not only educates but also acts as a catalyst to try and find these commonalities in the community. Economic development is not a unique item to a community but rather a shared experience.”

The first Connected Coast summit was held in Rockport in fall 2018 and focused on broadband technology. The second summit was in Corpus Christi in November 2018 and addressed restoring infrastructure such as water and roads. The goal of the Connected Coast summits is long-term economic development and resilience planning as defined by the Economic Development Administration. 

This article was prepared by Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi using Federal funds under award 08-79-05229 from the Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Development Administration or the U.S. Department of Commerce.