Regional XLR8, Coming Together for Resilient Communities & Regions

Regional XLR8: Act today. Empower tomorrow.

And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light, that shines on me, shine until tomorrow, let it be. 

The Beatles

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the landscape of our communities, state and nation with iconic shops and restaurants shuttered, tens of millions out of work, our children struggling in a confluence of online and in-person learning, traditional energy production facing an unclear future, an epidemic of distrust among our people, more hurricanes than letters in the alphabet, and many chairs at our dinner tables empty due to loss.  

How do we respond when our health, environment, economy, education, values and basic industries are all at risk? In the midst of these challenges, The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) brought its resources and scale to help Texas communities find new opportunities and steer toward a bright future. 

Dr. Greg Pogue leading first session and welcoming community leaders.

The IC2 Institute at UT Austin spent this once-in-a-lifetime (we hope!) Summer of 2020 getting to know Texas communities. Over 90 students from UT studied 64 communities across our great state producing community asset maps for leaders to see their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and challenges through the eyes of the talent of tomorrow  the workforce every company and community wants to attract. Through ~1,000 interviews, ~8,000 community surveys, and ~190 reports, we learned much about the rich history, diverse assets, deep challenges, and unique prospects Texas’ communities have. 

From these learnings, we designed a new type of accelerator, Regional XLR8, where city leaders and economic development professionals use startup methodologies to

  1. See their circumstances accurately, exploring how the past has driven the present and still shapes the future; and  
  1. Envision a defined pathway for new opportunity and community growth. 

“Dear Prudence,

open up your eyes. 

Dear Prudence,

see the sunny skies.”

The Beatles

Well, 150 leaders from 58 communities and 4 regional organizations joined Regional XLR8 this Fall! We used the songs and stories of the Beatles to explore key concepts necessary for leaders to produce roadmaps for community growth.  

  • “Here Comes the Sun”:  Why Mindset Matters! 
  • “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”: Building a Vision for Tomorrow 
  • “A Hard Day’s Night”: Assessing the Challenges of Today 
  • “We Can Work It Out”: Aligning Assets to Build a Future 
  • “With a Little Help From My Friends”: Building Regional Collaborations 
  • “Come Together”: Developing a Community Roadmap
  • “Ticket to Ride”: Communicating and Refining Community Roadmap

We just completed our “Come Together” session, and community leaders will now engage residents to receive feedback and “pivot” their roadmaps to fit community needs and gain community support. The Regional XLR8 program will resume on December 1 when we will hear what community leaders have learned and see how their roadmaps have been refined for implementation.  

With these refined roadmaps, community leaders will actually have their “Ticket to Ride” – a fitted plan to initiate with ongoing community support. Stay tuned as we will update you on exciting outcomes from Regional XLR8. We are eager to watch the plans be enacted and see our Texas communities transform a dark time into a bright future.  

Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter…

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun, and I say, it’s all right…

The Beatles

Indeed, Here Comes the Sun.”  


Posted on

October 27, 2020

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