The future of Brownwood is bright

Written by Celinda Hawkins – Brownwood is in a very good place thanks to low unemployment, thriving businesses, industries and a great school district, which was the message that Mayor Stephen Haynes imparted to a packed house during the January Chamber of Commerce Luncheon held Friday at the Coggin Avenue Baptist Church Connection Center. Prior to the luncheon, which was sold out, Haynes said the idea was to “have some fun” with the annual State of the City program. 

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The annual State of the City program was creatively done in a talk show format with Haynes opening up the show with a humorous monologue and mentioning several local citizens.

Photo at top by Celinda Hawkins: Brownwood Mayor Stephen Haynes interviewed Weston Jacobs owner of Weakley Watson Hardware about the challenges of business in today’s online climate during the State of the City Program Friday at the Coggin Avenue Baptist Church Connection Center. 

Haynes then called up the guests to the show, with the first being City Manager Emily Crawford and Economic Development Director Ray Tipton. Crawford applauded the work of the Brownwood Police Department saying their hard work made the city’s crime rate the lowest in five years. She also mentioned the Indian Creek Townhomes calling development “a game changer for the city.” 

Tipton highlighted the city’s uptick in sales tax over the past five years even thought there were some retail closures during that time. Sales tax increased from $6,131,801 in 2013 to $7,122,982 in 2018. 

“That is an increase of about one million dollars,” Tipton said adding that the addition of some “mom and pop” retailers has helped bring the sales tax numbers up. 

Tipton also said residential real estate sales were at an all time high with 413 homes and lots sold in 2018 compared to 391 in 2017. During the same time, Tipton reported that the average home values were up from $103,250 in 2017 to $109,900 in 2018. 

Next up were Brownwood Independent School District Superintendent Joe Young and BISD Board President Michael Cloy, who both praised the community for their support of the district. Both said the future for BISD is bright. 

“This is the most supportive community I’ve ever been in,” Young said.

Cloy agreed.

“The community supports Brownwood ISD so well,” Cloy said. 

Russ Bryan Plant Manager of 3M of Brownwood was next on stage and gave an update of 3M’s future plans, which includes a $30 million-dollar plant expansion. 

“There are a lot of positive things going on at 3M,” Bryan told Haynes. 

Weston Jacobs, owner of Weakly Watson Hardware was the final guest on the list and he talked about the challenge of retail in the face of online sales. 

“I have to be creative,” Jacobs said after Haynes asked him about his social media posts. 

Congressman Mike Conaway provided the invocation for the lunch provided by Underwood’s Cafeteria. Councilman Larry Mathis emceed the program. The presenting sponsor for the event was Oncor. Other sponsors included Underwood’s Cafeteria, Humphrey Pete’s, Redstone Park Retirement and Assisted Living Community and Brownwood Regional Medical Center. 

Photo by Celinda Hawkins

Joe Young, superintendent of the Brownwood Independent School District along with Michael Cloy, president of the BISD Board of Trustees, were interviewed by Brownwood Mayor Stephen Haynes during the State of the City program on Friday, January 18, which was the January luncheon provided by the Brownwood Chamber of Commerce.