Writer: Max Crampton-Thomas
2 min read August 2021 — In an interview with Invest:, Jonathan Packer, president and CEO of the Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce, discusses his top priorities in his new role, what is attracting so much growth for New Braunfels and his outlook on both a local and regional level.
What is your top priority in your new role as president and CEO of the Chamber?
New Braunfels is experiencing significant growth, always in the Top 10 in terms of growth over the past few years. New Braunfels is also a summer tourism destination and a lot of the indicators we watch are looking very good if you drew a trend line from 2019 to now. That’s very positive. Managing this growth proactivity is critical. Texas in general is dealing with higher levels of growth and affordability challenges than the rest of the country and central Texas is seeing it more than the rest of the state. Juggling heritage and community character isn’t a forced tradeoff when growth is managed well.
What sectors are attracted to New Braunfels?
New Braunfels has the strength of providing an unparalleled quality of life, so companies across all sectors that want to have that amenity for their workforce will do well here. Beyond that, we are focused on logistics and distribution, manufacturing, retail, healthcare, telecom and aviation. As a region, we have a very tight connection from I-35 to I-10 and so there are great distribution opportunities.
What is attracting international investment to New Braunfels?
We are seeing international investment interest in New Braunfels. For example, a large development called Veramendi is led by a Texas-based company composed of Australian property developers and land development consultants. New Braunfels has singular cultural institutions, such as Schlitterbahn (the world’s best waterpark for the last four decades), Gruene Hall (the oldest continually run dance hall in Texas) and the Natural Bridge Caverns. Everyone in Texas comes to New Braunfels for these cultural locations as well as events such as Wurstfest, and international companies have taken notice of the unique quality of life, amenities, and opportunities we offer.
How will the role of chambers continue to evolve going forward?
Chambers of commerce have faced a lot of competition in the last couple of decades. If you rewind 30 or 40 years, we had an environment where chambers had the market cornered on particular types of business development. Chambers helped to build professional networks in a pre-digital world, so that’s certainly been heavily disrupted. People can connect immediately online and don’t have to wait for a luncheon to see each other. Additionally, it’s easier than ever before for other groups and organizations to arrange get-togethers themselves. Thus, the cost of entry for meetings has fallen dramatically, there is higher demand for people’s time and there is information overload, in general.
Chambers do three primary things: help grow the economy, take on big issues and bring businesses together. The key theme across all of these is that we require ourselves to take a positive view of our community’s future. Everything we do aligns with that. We refuse to be negative and we’re always working toward an improved reality. Chambers need to be flexible, modern and adjust to the lessons of the pandemic but we always need to stay rooted in our commitment to and belief in our community.
What is your outlook for the next three to five years?
Our general outlook is positive, but we have decisions to make. There are going to be a lot of opportunities. As a region, we’re all registering levels of interest in our economies that are much higher than they were several years ago. With those opportunities comes the ability to choose what we want instead of just taking anything that comes our way. From a regional perspective, there is certainly variety, collaboration, and integration, so there is a great amount of potential for us to be intentional about how we manage this growth.
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