Writer: Max Crampton-Thomas
2 min read September 2021 — Founded in 1845, New Braunfels is one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation. In an interview with Invest:, Mayor Rusty Brockman discussed key takeaways from the pandemic, specific industries where the city would like to see greater expansion and how the city is managing its immense growth.
What was a key takeaway from the pandemic?
The pandemic reinforced the idea that through building partnerships and collaborating with others, a city can be economically successful even in difficult times. Everyone put their hearts into battling the challenges of the pandemic and our community came together to work through the challenges of a tough situation. As I look back over the pandemic, the collaboration and strength shown by our community and businesses makes me very proud to be a New Braunfels citizen. The act of working together has created a bright future for the city, much brighter than it would have been if everyone had been working individually.
How are you balancing New Braunfels’ growth?
Over the past 20 years, our growth has been significant and constant, with new people moving here all the time. We’ve been in the Top 10 fastest-growing cities for five of the past seven years by percentage of population growth. The number of building permits, both residential and commercial, over the past 17 months has hit record highs. The pandemic didn’t stop construction and businesses were still considering New Braunfels for relocation or expansion. Maintaining our culture and heritage while we grow is a definite, intentional effort on the part of our city staff, chamber staff and the business community. We’ve enjoyed 176 years of being a thriving community and we will always promote how significant our heritage is, but it’s not only about our initial heritage. We continue to welcome and learn about the diverse populations that are moving here and we’re working to engage all of these incoming populations while still promoting the importance of our beginning.
How does New Braunfels attract new businesses?
When we’re recruiting a certain set of businesses and industries, it’s not just the economic development group and chamber working to attract these companies. We have a team of people that welcome those folks to town and we try to give them the entire picture of why this is the best place to do business. We have incentives, infrastructure, workforce and an exceptional quality of life. We show them how important our culture is and we encourage the belief that we are all working together to be successful here. We look at them as a partner and we’re here for them.
What are the main industries New Braunfels is focused on?
We’re going to continue to recruit healthcare companies. Not only is there an opportunity for those who are doing research and development here in New Braunfels but we have a lot to offer healthcare companies. We have two general hospitals, a rehab hospital, lots of nursing home facilities and a great need for healthcare workers. Healthcare is extremely important.
We’re also focused on clean manufacturing. New Braunfels is home to Coleman Corporation, Detex, and Great American Products. These industries represent clean manufacturers that have called New Braunfels home for more than 20 years. We’ve been very fortunate to recruit good clean manufacturing, such as Canadian General Tower and Continental Motors. Both of those are in the process of investing significant dollars into our community. Continental specifically is doing not only the manufacturing of pieces for automobiles and equipment all around the world but they’re raising the bar with technology and the way they do their work. That’s an area we’ve been working on for a long time, tapping into the technology piece and appealing to innovators.
Tourism helped to create the ecosystem we have today and we want to continue to grow that. The entertainment industry is another area we are recruiting, including the film industry with productions already being shot in town regularly.
What is the primary challenge faced by New Braunfels?
Infrastructure is extremely taxed. Our community has recognized over the past 10 years that it’s important to upgrade and maintain our infrastructure to keep in line with growth. In 2013 and 2019, our residents passed bond issues that included many items but a significant portion of both were infrastructure related. Infrastructure is extremely important and our community is trying to stay ahead of the curve. New Braunfels Utilities also has over $600 million worth of construction underway right now to improve the wastewater and water infrastructure as well as the electric grid.
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