Reagan Hales

Board Director Lloyd Brown Shares His Vision For The AEDC

Lloyd Brown, CEO of Integrated Advantage Group and co-founder of Smart Chemical Services, is the newest member of the Amarillo EDC’s Board of Directors. He was a member of the Amarillo JCs, president of the Amarillo Club, and currently serves on the church board at Pinnacle Community Church.

In an interview with Savannah Tarbet at the AEDC, Brown shares why he became a director on the Board, what he hopes to help the board achieve, and where the Board is headed.

Savannah Tarbet: What piqued your interest in serving on the AEDC Board, and what other areas of the community do you volunteer in?

Lloyd Brown: I moved to Amarillo in the fall of 1988, and the town was in quite a disarray. Bell Helicopter just announced the closing of their operations. Santa Fe had moved their operations to Fort Worth, and oil and gas and agriculture were both down. So there was a huge number of homes for sale, and when the EDC came into existence, I was fortunate enough to vote for using the Half a Cent Sales to promote the growth of Amarillo.

I've seen the benefit of the AEDC and what it's done in contributing to bringing in and developing businesses – and of course, winning back Bell Helicopter, the Texas Tech Pharmacy School and all of the things that were associated with that. So I've always had a high interest.

Tarbet: You've been on the board almost 6 months now and have now seen one of the biggest projects that we've worked on. What has your experience been like so far?

Brown: I've been very pleased with the commitment that the past Board had made for the Texas Tech Veterinary School and learning what that commitment meant. And then going through and understanding the impact of that original investment in the Texas Tech Pharmacy School and the Health Sciences Center development, and what that's meant to Amarillo.

Seeing and being part of the EDC – to be able to make that kind of commitment for this next expansion – was really a humbling experience. To be able to see that you're going to be able to have the ability to participate in the decision that really impacts Amarillo overall. And I've enjoyed getting to understand how we can make an impact, the capacity and capabilities of the organization, and helping design and drive what our next focus is going to be for the AEDC.

Tarbet: What are your goals for the organization during your term?

Brown: I would love to see the AEDC have a more designed, developed plan of action: of the type of businesses that we're going to go and attract. I think the Board should put some structure together to help figure out these types of businesses – and what other resources need to be developed within our community – to help the AEDC recruit great expansive businesses for our community.

Tarbet: Where do you hope to see the organization long term?

Brown: I think, long term, the organization will continue to have a dynamic impact on our community. The AEDC has the ability to go throughout the entire country and look for opportunities that would be a great fit for our community and add a compounding of jobs.

What I mean by that is, just like the TTU Veterinary School has the ability to have a huge number of ancillary support businesses come in to Amarillo, that's something that I believe we ought to be looking for. As we recruit companies to come to Amarillo, we ought to be also taking into account the impact, or the other ancillary businesses that those would bring to the table.

Tarbet: Where do you hope to see the community long term?

Brown: I really love the direction that the community is going today. We've got multiple, robust, growing areas of the community. You've got the downtown revitalization...I'd like to see that continue and move more into the North part of town as well as the older parts of our community.

And watch the revitalization grow from downtown, of course. There is a tremendous amount of retail and diversification on the western side of Amarillo.  I'd like to see the south-east side of Amarillo continue to develop and grow. I think that's probably one of the least focused and under-served areas of our community right now.

Tarbet: What do you wish people knew about the AEDC?

Brown: I think there's a misunderstanding on sometimes what the AEDC's purpose is for. And, really, its focus is about developing, recruiting and retaining businesses in our community that help us grow and diversify our business base.

Amarillo is a central medical district. We're also one of the largest agricultural diversified areas in the country. We’ve got Bell Helicopter within the manufacturing sector. When you look at all of that, as well as our dairy, beef cattle, and the ancillary of crop production that supports those industries in our area, you can see that Amarillo has a really diverse economic engine compared to what we used to have.

With our unemployment rate so low, we’re only second in the country behind Midland. This brings us to one of the challenges that we have. As an organization and as a community, we need to be able to recruit, train and create a workforce going forward so we can bring in new businesses and have a robust healthy population that's ready to go to work.

What's the AEDC up to? Check out our Choose Amarillo site to see how we're working to attract new and emerging businesses to the region.