It was when I walked into a Subway sandwich shop and placed my order that I realized things had begun to change. I was asked, “What type of bread would you like?” What type of bread? Bread is bread isn’t it? I replied to the “Sandwich Artist,” “Do you have white bread?” to which he responded, “We have  sourdough, roasted garlic, parmesan oregano, Monterrey cheddar,  Italian herbs and cheese, honey oat, nine grain wheat, flatbread, or Italian (which I later realized was white).
Average had become a thing of the past and now I was faced with options and diversity. The same has become true in our world. Over the last ten years, Temple has moved away from average. Because of this, there are five trends that are now and will continue to impact our community and how we do business as we grow into the future.
One trend you may have noticed is that the world is becoming smaller. The growth of technology in our information and communication systems has contributed largely to how and where we do business today. With the onset of the internet in the mid-eighties and supply chain networks reaching from our neighborhoods to across the world, it has become just as easy to do business in Bangkok as it is in Belton. Over the past ten years, the industries in our community have become much more global and today, in Temple, more than 67 percent of our industries consider their primary market to be international. This global reach reflects in our population growth as well. From the years 2000 to 2010, our foreign born population in Bell County has increased 69 percent. The world is at our front door. Having a global impact means continuing to grow our economy and our population.
In addition to becoming more global and diverse, a second trend impacting us is the fact that we are reaching the end of the majority. From 2003 to 2013, Temple’s population has grown 27 percent. With this new growth we have seen an increase in our minority population of more than 37 percent. We have witnessed the most diverse and racially balanced generation in American history with the arrival of the “Millennial Generation” (those individuals born between 1982 and 2004). This demographic change along with a growing Hispanic population in our state (that is expected to outnumber the White population by 2020) has had an impact on civic organizations, public schools and even the family unit. It will impact our business environment on a daily basis when it comes to workplace relationships and how we market products. A new understanding of different cultures, tolerance and acceptance will determine how successful a community will become in its future growth. People are looking for communities that provide the options of live, work and play.
Because of this shift, another trend facing us today is the rise of regionalism. An interesting migration occurred in 2008 that has never before happened in the history of American culture. More people began to move into urban areas rather rural settings. Between 2000 and 2005, 11 of Texas’ “metro” counties – counties with one or more urban areas – saw population increases of at least 20 percent, while 93 non-metro counties experienced losses. Metropolitan areas were far more likely to grow than their rural counterparts. Currently, the Killeen – Temple – Fort Hood metropolitan area has a population of almost a half million people. This shift in migration patterns has created synergy in geographic areas and has provided connectivity in our personal and professional lives. It is not uncommon for an individual to live in Temple, attend church in Belton and go to work in Killeen. In fact, 70 percent of Temple’s workforce commutes from outside the city making Temple a regional employment center. It is because we have become so mobile and our lives revolve around urban areas rather than rural communities that we have to be strategic in community planning. People have options in regions. They look for amenities that meet the needs of their families and their lifestyles.
A forth trend occurring is seen with people moving into regions and looking for communities that have a significance of place. Temple is ideally located on the IH35 corridor. The fact that our central location puts us within 180 miles of 80 percent of the State’s population certainly helps make us significant. When asked, “What is the community’s biggest strength?” 60 percent of the employers in Temple said it was our location.
But there are other factors in our community contributing to our significance, such as: utilizing green elements. Temple has more than 737 acres of park land highlighted with trails, playing fields, frisbee golf courses, a Water Park and the new Central Texas Bark Park for our four legged friends. These green elements not only add beauty to our community but provide great venues for relaxation and recreation.  Temple takes the main street approach in many areas around the community. New landscaping and pedestrian walkways create connectivity between key areas of the city. Plazas in downtown and throughout the community provide opportunities for social gatherings and interaction. Blending rather than leveling helps create a community’s identity and sets it apart from other places in a region. Assets like the Santa Fe Depot and downtown play an important role in giving our community its identity and making Temple significant. Identifying those buildings that are blighted and those that have real historical value and can be given new life is a valuable part of Temple’s planning and growth.
There are many changes happening in our community, our professional lives and to each of us personally. Our growth in technology and economy have made it a necessity for us to practice lifelong learning, the fifth trend impacting our community and how we do business.
Over the past year, 48 percent of Temple’s industries have increased their spending on training for employees. More than 23 percent of students that are enrolled in an education program are over the age of 25. We know that at the speed in which technology is moving, what we learn today will most likely be obsolete in just a few years. In today’s ever changing environment, we never really graduate. Today’s workforce has to learn, unlearn and relearn in order to be competitive. During the 2013 legislative session, lawmakers passed a landmark education bill making substantial changes to the state’s graduation requirements. School districts have more freedom to provide course flexibility to high school students, offer a greater number of dual credit classes and increase career and technology education. This is an attempt to meet the growing needs of employers for skilled workers ready to enter technical trades.
So what happen to the white bread and my sandwich? I chose honey oat. There is still white bread at subway but with so many options it is just not as significant as it once was.