There are allegations from the National Weather Service that moisture will be descending from the sky today. There's an 80% chance of rain today across Kerr County, along with some scattered thunderstorms.
WHAT'S ON TAP TODAY
- On The Lead Live today, Andrew Gay and Gilberto Paiz of Texas Hill Country Advisors join us to discuss a wide range of financial issues. After years of working for big banks, the duo ventured out on their own, and we'd like them to share some of their thoughts on the entrepreneurial journey. The show starts at 9 a.m.
- This is going to be interesting! Ingram Tom Moore's volleyball team won a five-set slugfest against Nixon Smiley on Tuesday night in the UIL 3-A Bi-District Playoffs. The Warriors won 18-16 in the fifth set and Madi McClintock led with 16 kills and four blocks. However, the interesting second-round matchup will be when the Warriors face Poth, where Ingram coach Tara Dunn graduated from in 2010. Not only did Dunn graduate from Poth but she was an all-state player and a MaxPreps player of the year. She later played at Oklahoma. The match, in the area round, will be played sometime between Nov. 4-6. Here's the link to our previous story: https://kerrcountylead.com/211299430981803
- The Kerrville Economic Development Corp.'s first-ever Business and Innovation Forums kick off this morning at 8 a.m. at Arcadia Live. It will be a full day of discussion about what drives business in Kerr County and the Texas Hill Country. We have more on that further down.
- The Atlanta Braves won the World Series by defeating the Houston Astros on Tuesday night, 7-0. It was Atlanta's first World Series title since 1995 — and fourth in the 150-year history of the franchise.
- The Kerr County Commissioners Court will meet at 9 a.m. today to vote on a redistricting plan. We'll have coverage on that later today.
- By the way, we're 17 days away from Kerrville Lighted Christmas Parade and George Eychner lighting up Kerrville and Tranquility Island.
WHAT'S DRIVING THE NEWS
Kerr County voters said yes to improving emergency services in the western and eastern parts of the county on Tuesday. The levies the two emergency services districts require will be no more than 10 cents per $100 of assessed value in those areas — in portions county precincts 2, 3 and 4.
In emergency services district No. 3, 72% of the voters approved the measure. The vote was 345-131 in favor of creating the district. In emergency services district No. 4, the Hunt area, 81% of voters said yes to the plan. The vote was 133-27 in favor of the district.
All told, more than 5,000 Kerr County voters cast ballots in this election — a turnout of 13.4%.
THE LATEST ON THE DRAG RACING CRASH
We chatted with San Antonio attorney Andrew Toscano, representing the families of two people killed in the Oct. 23 drag racing crash at Kerrville-Kerr County Airport. Toscano said he's expecting to file his suit today or Thursday, but his journey in finding compensation for the families of Rebecca Cedillo, 46, and her eight-year-old nephew, Santiago Martinez. Toscano said since the victims are from Bexar County, the race was in Kerr County and a measure of immunity for both the county and the city of Kerrville; it could be an uphill battle.
Toscano said he appreciated the efforts by race organizer Ross Dunagan to offer repeated condolences and the event's prize money to the families. However, Toscano said the families are facing massive hospital bills. Cedillo had six major surgeries between the Saturday afternoon crash and her death five days later in the early morning of Wednesday.
STATE OF THE ECONOMY
When Kerrville Economic Development Corp. Chief Operating Officer Gil Salinas and Kerrville City Manager E.A. Hoppe take to the stage Wednesday at Arcadia Live to present their local economic snapshot, there will be three areas to watch: Labor, or lack thereof; Housing, or the lack thereof; and the enthusiasm to develop, which there is plenty.
The two men will kick off the first-ever Business and Innovation Forums, which starts today and wraps on Friday. All told, there will be more than 20 forums about entrepreneurial opportunities, challenges navigating technology, and a discussion about aviation's future. The forums will be the most significant event that KEDC has hosted since the coronavirus pandemic.
As 2021 draws to a close, Kerrville and Kerr County leaders face a reckoning on managing growth, along with sustainability — something that is trick in a high-cost market.
Here are some key economic indicators facing Kerrville right now:
Unemployment has dipped to 4.4% in Kerr County, according to the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank. The rate is the lowest it has been since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March of 2020 — when it was 4.4%.
The Texas Workforce Commission estimates there are 600 openings in Kerr County. Many of these jobs aren't entry-level positions typically advertised on marquee signs. There was a mythology that much of the labor shortage was due to people accepting enhanced unemployment benefits, but those programs have ended. What's happening is people are quitting their jobs in record numbers. Consider these stats from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- 6.6%. That's the percentage of positions available nationwide.
- 4.3%. That's the percentage of hiring for those positions.
- 4.1%. That's the quit rate — people who are voluntarily leaving.
What makes this interesting, at least from our readout, is that it creates a revolving door for employers to deal with, and you can see some of that playing out in Kerrville. Almost all Kerrville's fast-food restaurants are advertising $12 per hour starting wages, with Whataburger upping that to include a $300 retention bonus. In our mind, the retention bonus is a sure sign of the labor shortfall in Kerr County, but no one entirely agrees with this assessment.
But there's one statistic that specifically catches our eye: Baby Boomer retirements. The Pew Research Center found that 30 million baby boomers retired in the third quarter of 2020. The Baby Boomers were born between 1946 through 1964. In terms of that community in Kerr County, about 38% of residents are 55 years old or older, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2019 American Community Survey. Kerr County's most significant age demographic is those 65-74 — 14.4%.
If you applied the 3% rate of Boomers leaving the workforce to Kerr County's population — 55-74 — that means nearly 500 people left their jobs in the third quarter of 2020. Kerr County's estimated workforce is more than 23,000 people.
Pew places some of the blame on the coronavirus pandemic.
"The job losses associated with the COVID-19 recession may be contributing to the jump in Boomer retirements," Pew wrote. "Since February 2020, the number of retired Boomers has increased by about 1.1 million. Some of this increase could reflect seasonal change in employment activity. But during the February to September period last year, the population of retired Boomers rose by only about 250,000."
For more than a year, Kerrville's real estate market has been red hot, and there's no letting up. The Texas A&M Real Estate Center pegs the county as the second most expensive market in the state, and prices right now are at all-time highs. In September, Kerr County real estate agents sold 75 properties with an average price of more than $432,000 and a median price of $323,000 — those were actually down from August's numbers.
Depending on the website, Kerrville's real estate market is tight or incredibly tight.
Website Redfin lists just 43 properties for sale right now — a pessimistic outlook about the state of the market. Realtor.com is more in line with the market with 194 homes for sale, but just 29 under $275,000. Finally, Zillow says there are just 36 in what would be considered affordable.
One of the things Salinas will stress is this is the right time for startups, especially here in the Hill Country. While Salinas' main job is to bring in businesses to Kerrville and Kerr County — the most significant being Killdeer Mountain Manufacturing — he's bullish on the opportunities for self-starters.