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Buda Chamber Welcomes Texas Secretary of State

By Moses Leos III
Published by Haysfreepress

Carlos H. Casos

Carlos H. Casos

Keys on making a municipality attractive to businesses and visitors was one point Texas Secretary of State Carlos H. Cascos spoke on during the Buda Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon April 14.

For Cascos, who toured 37 Texas cities in 2015, the importance of every city in Texas, large or small, is vital to the state. “Every community plays an integral role in Texas, whether it’s Houston or Bullard,” Cascos said. “There is no role that is too small.”

According to Cascos, a community’s ability to find its “niche” to draw visitors is one major component. Cascos said one difficult challenge cities have is to overcome “trying to be all things to all people.”

“It’s nearly impossible, especially for smaller communities, because they don’t offer a lot of big time retail stores, but a lot of small mom and pop operations,” Cascos said. “But that’s what sets small towns apart, the mom and pop operations.”

Cascos cited cities such as Wimberley and Kerrville, which he said are a “tourism Mecca” due to their adherence to small businesses. While Cascos wasn’t sure what the niche is for all small cities, he said economic development corporations and chambers of commerce should take up the task.

Buda Mayor Todd Ruge said the city is “heading in the right direction” in terms of finding its niche. With the addition of Cabela’s in 2010, Ruge said the city gave itself the moniker of “outdoor capital of Texas.”

Focusing on eco-tourism could be an avenue Buda may explore in the future, Ruge said. He cited the city’s recent acquisition of Garison Park and the city’s plans to redo City Park.

“We’re blessed to have parks … there’s no reason to not attract visitors to our parks,” Ruge said. But for cities such as Buda, where small businesses are starting to compete with big box stores, finding a balance can be a challenge.

He said it’s a “tough call” as big box stores can buy in larger volumes and offer lower prices than smaller businesses. “That’s something the locals have to find a way to overcome,” Cascos said. “The days of walking into a store and knowing the owner by a first name basis are slowly disappearing.”

Ruge said the city plans to use its parks system to continue to build the “small town charm.” “Our small town charm is important to us and we can build upon that with the parks system,” Ruge said. “It’s an avenue we can discuss.”

But Cascos said cities should follow four main principles that could help draw more business to the area. Focusing on improving infrastructure was one aspect, with a second involving tax rates, which can range from ad valorem to ESD taxes.

Education and healthcare were two important sectors Cascos said cities could focus on to attract more business. Cascos said the quality of the education system in or near a city, from administration and teachers, is also important.

“But for those without kids, it may not be a big deal,” Cascos said.