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Officials continue Brazos County petition drive in quest for county self-governance

Registered voters in Brazos County can still add their signatures to a petition calling for an election to form a new community college district. The petition is sponsored by the Brazos Talent Initiative, a committee formed through the Research Valley Partnership, to allow Brazos County residents a voice in their self-governance and determination of education financial resources. This drive comes as the county develops proactive and comprehensive solutions to workforce development for Brazos County.

Registered voters can go to any BB&T or the Bank & Trust branch locations, House of Tires, and Kesco Restaurant Supply during normal business hours and ask to sign the petition. Also, Texas A&M Young Republicans will be circulating petitions at Saturday’s football game between the Aggies and University of Texas-San Antonio, the Thanksgiving Day game against Louisiana State University as well as on campus until the Christmas Holiday.

The committee began gathering signatures at voting sites during the Nov. 8 general election, an effort that garnered them “thousands of signatures” that are still being counted as circulating petitions come in. Once the signatures are verified, the committee will present the completed petition to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) at its January 2017 meeting to formally notify the board of its intent to create the new district.

Committee co-chair Andrew Nelson said the petition places the governance of tax dollars in the hands of Brazos County voters.

“The taxpaying citizens of Brazos County should be allowed a vote to decide if they want to buy Blinn College’s Bryan Campus, retain the excess revenues generated from this campus for reinvestment locally, and govern themselves when it comes to allocating funds for education and workforce development,” said Nelson.

Nelson also emphasized that the committee is still open to exploring a feasible partnership with Blinn College.

“Early on in this process, we asked other institutions, including Blinn, to provide the committee with program proposals that would close the opportunity gap between education and the workforce that employers in Brazos County are demanding,” said Nelson. “As of today, these proposals and information gathered in subsequent discussions do not meet the comprehensive needs of Brazos County.”

Committee Secretary Bobby Gutierrez said it’s important that the county be proactive in meeting workforce development needs, instead of scrambling to create new programs while employers are trying to fill critical positions.

“We believe creating paths toward the high paying, high quality scientific, technical and trade occupations, undergirded by strong math and communications basics to meet current and future job growth is essential to a holistic and proactive approach to education and technical training in Brazos County,” Gutierrez said. “This college district could allow for either a partnership with other technical workforce providers, creation of a new college, or a change in governance or control of existing Blinn College operations in Brazos County.

“Ultimately, it’s about allowing the citizens of Brazos County to govern themselves.”

Additional information and Frequently Asked Questions about the petition can be found on the Steering Committee’s website, www.BrazosTalentInitiative.org.

About the Research Valley Partnership

The Research Valley Partnership is a public-private economic development corporation serving the citizens of Brazos County, Texas. The Partnership pursues economic growth in the county without regard to jurisdiction through its programs, services and initiatives to help launch, grow and locate companies in Brazos County.

About the Talent Pipeline Initiative Steering Committee

In June of 2016, the Research Valley Partnership formed the Talent Pipeline Steering Committee in response to unmet demand in Brazos County and the greater Research Valley, recognizing lack of talent will inhibit economic growth fundamental to the Partnership’s mission. The Steering Committee has broad-based, community-wide representation. Mr. Andrew Nelson and Mr. Ivan Olson serve as co-chairs of the Steering Committee and Mr. Bobby Gutierrez serves as secretary.