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30 years after its creation, Tyler Economic Development Council cites success

By Erin Mansfield emansfield@tylerpaper.com

Thirty years after the organization started with a mission to diversify the local economy, the Tyler Economic Development Council celebrated its success.

Tom Mullins, the CEO, said the organization has grown from 20 members to 122 members from 1989 to 2019 and from $140,000 in assets to more than $9 million.

Affiliated with the Chamber of Commerce, the organization specializes in using incentives to attract and retain businesses that trade outside of East Texas. 


The organization has used incentives on 180 projects to bring 10,829 jobs to Tyler and retain 14,991, Mullins said. The incentives also helped bring $1.1 billion in new capital investments, he said.

While the oil and gas industry dominated back in 1989, Smith County has since become a hub for higher education, medical services, retail establishments, financial institutions and government, he said. 

He also pointed to the organization’s support for the November 2012 election in which Smith County residents voted to allow beer and wine sales as one of the most consequential initiatives it took on.

Mullins made the comments at the 30th anniversary celebration for the Tyler Economic Development Council at the Green Acres Baptist Church’s CrossWalk Center in Tyler.

Laila Assanie, a senior business economist for the Dallas Federal Reserve, presented data on the industries that have been driving Smith County’s economy from 2010 to 2017.


The presentation was a variation on the Dallas Fed’s earlier report, the Heart of Texas, which looked at Smith, Gregg, Upshur and Rusk counties as a single metropolitan area.

Assanie said Tyler's median household income is $54,339, compared with $59,026 for Texas overall. When adjusted for purchasing power, the Tyler area's median household income is $59,257, much closer to the state's $60,336. 

Growth in median household income from 2010 to 2017 increased faster in the Tyler area (11.9 percent) than Texas overall (8.3 percent), she said. 

"At the metropolitan level, economic data is usually very scarce," Assanie said. "It’s difficult to get this comparative analysis, and so this was one way of us giving back to the community."