Economic summit to focus on Kerr County housing challenges

The Hill Country Economic Summit is set for Thursday morning at the Hill Country Youth Event Center.

The state of the Kerr County economy, along with its regional impact, will be at the heart of Thursday's Hill Country Economic Summit at the Happy State Expo Hall in the Hill Country Youth Event Center.

With rising inflation, attributed to a litany of reasons, the national economy feels a bit jittery to many people. In January, the Gallup Poll found that 40% of Americans rated the economy's health as "only fair," and 37% said the economy was in poor shape.

Kerr County's economy feels the pinch of inflation, high housing costs and rising gas prices. It's the housing issue that Kerrville Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bradley Barnett says could be the most crucial discussion on Thursday at the event.


"What we did in December was we had a meeting with a lot of stakeholders, and the Chamber after that meeting decided to form a committee to take up that (housing work)," Barnett said of addressing Kerrville and Kerr County's shortage of affordable or workforce housing. "Our thought was we're a private membership-based organization supporting business, it makes sense to us working under the city rather than the city doing that."


Previously, a committee set up by Mayor Bill Blackburn tackled the issue. Blackburn repeatedly tells all who listen that the lack of affordable housing remains one of Kerrville's toughest problems to solve. A Lennar project will bring more than 120 homes onto the market next year — but the deficit remains significant.

"We're early in the process, but we're trying to determine what is attainable," Barnett said. "How much do we need to meet each price point? Cory Edmondson (The CEO of Peterson Health) came to me and said 'we're having issues recruiting doctors and nurses."

And the issues were with housing — of any kind.

"That shows it's at all levels," Barnett said. "If you're on a doctor's salary and you're having issues, or a nurses salary here, finding housing here it's challenging."

The economic summit will have four sessions. They are:

  • A panel discussion of Barnett, Kerr Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Gil Salinas and Kerrville Convention and Visitors Bureau President and CEO Julie Davis discussing their roles, how they relate to each other and areas of overlap.
  • A panel discussion focused on building attainable and affordable housing in Kerrville and Kerr County.
  • Luis Torres, an economist who specializes in international trade and economics, will present the state of banking, international economics, trade and applied econometrics.
  • The keynote speech is by U.S. Olympian Johnny Quinn, who was a member of the Winter Olympic team in bobsledding. Quinn now works as an entrepreneur.

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