Regional Economic Recovery Research – Report Series

Community Perspectives on Economic Development

Spring 2021

In his State of the State address in early February, Governor Abbott highlighted the importance of greater broadband access in rural parts of Texas. The COVID pandemic, he said, had brought to light the urgency of expanded high-speed internet for the economic and physical well-being of Texans outside the major urban corridors, and he added rural broadband investment to the list of emergency items that he would like the Texas Legislature to address in its current Session. Indeed, the Texas Tribune recently highlighted the need for reforming the Texas Universal Service Fund, which subsidizes phone and internet service for a million Texans living in remote and rural areas.

Rural broadband investment, however, is one of a number of economic development priorities that rural Texans themselves say they need. Last summer, researchers at the Bureau of Business Research in the IC2 Institute at the University of Texas at Austin surveyed 7000 Texas residents of small cities and towns across the state as part of the  Regional Economic Recovery Initiative (RERR)The survey asked participants to rate their satisfaction with 18 different community “assets” ranging from broadband and K-12 education to housing affordability, healthcare, and the local cost of living. The survey also asked participants about the appeal of a set of economic development and quality-of-life improvement options for their communities and then to make trade-offs in an allocation exercise by investing hypothetical investment dollars among the various options.

The results were surprising. The findings illuminate the challenges facing those who live in rural and small-town Texas as they improve local infrastructure, retain and attract young workers, and enhance the quality of life in their communities.

Over the next few weeks, over March and April 2021, we will highlight findings from the survey on the BBR website and provide data that residents and economic development specialists in small Texas towns can use to help guide investment choices. The full report will be released in late spring 2021.

Regional Economic Recovery Research – Report Series, by theme

Theme 1 – COVID Impact to Health & Jobs

March 4, 2021

As part of the IC2 Institute’s Regional Economic Recovery Initiative, launched in March 2020 to better understand Texas communities and provide evidence-based recommendations for next steps for community planning, the Bureau of Business Research surveyed Texans from across the state about their economic development priorities. …read more.

Theme 2 – Resilience & Recovery in Rural Texas Communities

March 15, 2021

Exacerbating economic losses from the COVID-19 Pandemic, some economists estimate that Winter Storm Uri will cost the state of Texas $120 billion in lost productivity, business closures, and residential repairs. The sudden, unexpected, and preventable consequences of #Snovid echo IC2 Institute Executive Director Art Markman’s message to prioritize economic resiliency even at the cost of short-term individual profits and business efficiency. …read more.

COMING SOON – Research released regularly over spring 2021

Theme 3 – Entrepreneurial Intention

Theme 4 – Community Asset Importance-Satisfaction Gaps

Theme 5 – Community’s Priorities Among Economic, Quality of Life Project Ideas


We encourage your feedback and would like to hear from you. Email BBR Director, Dr. Bruce Kellison, with questions about the survey, the findings, or the analysis presented here.

>> Back to BBR Main Page

>> More BBR Research & Reports