Photo by Joe Southern
President, Katy Area Economic Development Council
Lance LaCour is minding Katy’s business. LaCour’s mission is to bring jobs to the greater Katy area.
The 47-year-old New Orleans native is the president and chief executive officer of the Katy Area Economic Development Council. He earned his bachelors degree in political science and his masters degree in economic development from the University of Southern Mississippi and is a graduate of the Economic Development Institute at the University of Oklahoma. He has resided in Katy for seven years.
Prior to his arrival in Texas, LaCour was president and CEO of the Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance, Inc. in Alabama. Before that, LaCour was executive director of Phenix 2000, an economic development corporation serving Phenix City and Russell County, Alabama.
The Katy EDC was founded in 2003. LaCour estimates that it has helped bring nearly 10,000 jobs to the greater Katy area with capital investments totalling $1.1 billion. He said he anticipates hundreds more jobs coming to Katy soon as the nation begins economic recovery and businesses seek to locate in the Houston area.
As home to Houston’s Energy Corridor, the KAEDC has helped bring in companies such as Conoco Phillips, Worley Parsons, BP America and Murphy Oil.
Among some of the more visible clients are the Rooms To Go distribution center and an expansion of the Igloo facility. The KAEDC also helped bring the corporate office and distribution center of Academy Sports and Outdoors to Katy.
The KAEDC’s mission “is to establish the Katy area as the premier location for families and businesses through planned economic growth and development.”
What is the purpose of the Katy Area Economic Development Council?
We are a 501(c)3, private, nonprofit full-service economic development corporation. Our purpose is to recruit new business to Katy and help new businesses to expand. We help create new businesses, which is the entrepreneurial side. We advocate and encourage new business infrastructure such as business parks, office buildings and that sort of thing.
What types of business would you like to bring to Katy?
We have a strategic plan called Katy Area 2015, and we’ve identified several target industries that we’re targeting to come here—energy services from the office standpoint, from the manufacturing standpoint and from the information technology standpoint. That is probably our prime target. We’re also targeting distribution and other advanced manufacturing type projects. We get involved with medical, but not so much on the proactive side in terms of bringing medical facilities here. Our primary focus is jobs and bringing wealth from outside the Katy area.
How does being divided between three counties—Harris, Fort Bend and Waller—affect business development and recruitment?
It’s good for them if they’re looking at different areas to locate because they can look at us as a one-stop shop if they’re looking at different locations. We can promote and exhibit different properties in their site search. In other ways it’s a challenge because with three different counties we have three different jurisdictions. Each one of them has different interests and each has different levels of programs they can provide. It’s both an advantage and a challenge.
How can the schools better prepare the next generation of workers?
I think you’re seeing this happening quite a bit [with the schools in Katy] where there’s interaction with local employers to understand the employers’ need in terms of skills and what’s needed in terms of hard skills but also life skills and how they solve problems. I think Katy is doing that through several programs. There’s also a lot of interaction with PTAs and different groups here and then we have the Miller Career and Technology Center which is doing a good job of preparing students for better careers. I think the best thing they can do is get better in tune with local employers and their needs.
What is your proudest accomplishment with the Katy Area EDC?
My proudest accomplishment is all of the jobs we’ve been able to bring into Katy. We’re approaching 10,000 with capital investments of over 1 billion.
If you could change one thing about Katy, what would it be?
I really don’t know if I would change a lot because Katy is such a dynamic area. The school district is one of the reasons why people move here, and they do a great job of preparing kids for college and the work force. One thing I would change [that] is sometimes a challenge for us is having better drainage for economic development plus there are lots of pipelines we have to deal with. There are a lot of pipelines in Katy and sometimes it’s a challenge for development. I think there’s a lot of good things happening with drainage and the infrastructure for the most part is being built to handle that, but we do have challenges coming up in that area.