TYLER (KYTX)- During today's regularly scheduled meeting, the Tyler City Council endorsed the Veteran and Military Growth Initiative to create sustainable opportunities for Veterans and their families to thrive in East Texas.
On March 17, 2011, the City of Tyler, under the leadership of Mayor Barbara Bass, chartered the Veterans & Community Roundtable. Three years later, the Roundtable engages more than 150 individuals and organizations that serve Veterans, Guard/Reserve, and military families in East Texas. Members focus on five key Veteran and military transition issues: employment, education, housing, healthcare, and financial/legal services.
In May, 2013, members of the Mayor's Roundtable and the Chamber's Veterans Committee began the development of a Veterans Strategic Plan to compliment Tyler's existing IGI and Tyler 1st Plans. A small committee researched the potential, using the focus group information from the recent IGI and Tyler 1st as a barometer of wide public sentiment. They engaged Chamber members, government agencies, businesses, members of the Veterans & Community Roundtable, the Chamber's Veterans Committee, and local citizens to solicit their suggestions.
The result of the committee's efforts was a 42 page community and economic development plan, the Veteran and Military Growth Initiative (VMGI). The VMGI outlines more than 40 strategies and tactics for veteran-focused community growth, making a strong case for how implementation will bring fresh dollars into Tyler/Smith County and cement Tyler's reputation as the "capital of East Texas." Since Jan. 6, 2014, the VMGI has received endorsements from the Veterans & Community Roundtable, the Chamber's Veterans Committee and Tyler's Leadership Roundtable.
There are approximately 16,000 Veterans in Smith County which bring an estimated $189 million annually to the region in VA benefits, disability pensions and medical care. Some goals of the VMGI include attracting veteran-owned small businesses, creating a Veteran training academy focused on trades, expanding the VA clinic, developing Tyler Pounds Regional Airport as a Veteran business/aviation campus, welcoming more Veteran retirees and becoming "America's most Veteran friendly community."