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Leaders: city not keeping tech experts

Feb. 14, 2001

Students say they leave Waco for big-city chances



Waco officials say one of the resources that the city lacks the most is technological expertise.

Economic development officials have found that, although there are technical schools in the area, the Waco community is losing technology workers because there aren't enough high-tech firms to provide jobs and advancement.

Councilwoman Dr. Mae Jackson said the Waco City Council is 'very interested' in drawing technology firms to Waco. The city needs more of these firms to 'maintain the talent that we have here in the city,' she said.

Jackson said that Waco could attract these workers if city businesses could provide jobs that pay what these trained workers expect.

Jackson's view is supported by Waco's most recent economic development study, which says 'Waco faces a 'brain drain' of its best and brightest students leaving the area in search of better job opportunities in Austin, Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth.'

Computer science major Jon Houser, a Mesquite junior, said Waco's 'brain drain' happens because students are searching for greener pastures.

'Most computer science majors have fears about staying here in Waco because they are afraid they will never leave,' Houser said. 'They believe you can't advance very far here in Waco. But in places like Dallas, there are endless [promotion] opportunities.'

In an effort to bring educated workers to Waco, many organizations are marketing Waco and providing incentives to firms that provide high-tech jobs.

Jack Stewart, president and CEO of the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber is 'in the process of developing a technology development plan using a consultant group out of Austin that we have contracted with to become a partner in our technology road map.'

Stewart said the chamber's goal is to help the community become a greater player in technology business development.

Another economic group, Downtown Waco Inc., is looking to bring more technological firms to the Brazos River area. It provides tax incentives and loans for renovations to businesses near the Brazos River, said Magaret Mills, executive director of Downtown Waco Inc.

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